(FREDERICTON, NB) Marta Belsh has been named the new head coach of the UNB Reds Swimming Team.
The appointment comes as part of a two-year agreement reached between the Reds and the Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team, or FAST.
Belsh will remain the head coach of FAST as well.
“I’m very excited. It’s a huge opportunity and an honour to be part of a great program and university,” said Belsh. “I feel like I can make a difference to the program. Ultimately my goal is to increase the level of performance with the team and then create a program that is a destination for our age group swimmers.”
Belsh, a swimming coach for 22 years, is in her 11th season as the head coach of FAST.
A former member of the Polish national junior team, Belsh holds Senior Coach certification from Canada’s National Coaches Certification Program. She’s currently working towards NCCP’s Advanced Coaching Diploma, and is a Master Coach Developer for Swimming Canada.
“It’s stepping into a slightly different role,” said Belsh. “It’s a different set of athletes with a different set of skills and abilities. I feel there will be a continuum, having an athlete moving up during Grade 11 and 12, and then having them move into the university program. That’s been a goal of our age-group program, to put as many as possible onto the university team, so that it’s just a continuation of our work. I feel like it fits very well.”
In her role as Reds head coach, Belsh will lead all aspects of UNB’s swimming program, including training and competition during the Atlantic University Sport and U SPORTS seasons. As Reds head coach, Belsh will report to John Richard, UNB’s Director of Athletics.
“We’re excited to add someone of Marta’s caliber,” said Richard. “She brings a lot to the table, both as a coach and as someone who understands high performance expectations. She’s worked with some of our current Reds swimmers in the past and they’re excited to continue working with her.”
“FAST is very excited about the partnership with UNB,” said Wendy Sinclair, President of FAST. “We see this as a way to encourage and inspire our swimmers to pursue their sport beyond high school. Motivation for training and competition is key for swimmers, as many start very young and the practice schedule is rigorous. We hope exposure to, and association with, high performance collegiate athletes will be a source of pride and inspiration.”
“Marta’s expertise, passion and commitment have supported the development of nationally recognized age group and para swimmers in Fredericton. We hope that partnering with a varsity program will attract families to FAST, our community, UNB, and the sport of swimming,” said Sinclair.
Belsh succeeds Robin Ferdinand, who coached the Reds for eight seasons (2011-12 through 2018-19).
“We’re confident that under Marta’s leadership the Reds will continue to make the gains we saw during the 2018-19 seasons, even improve on them,” said Richard. “We feel this arrangement will benefit both groups, but most importantly it will benefit the student-athletes.”
Belsh assumed her new position on May 1st.
She’s confident she can build on the recent successes of the Reds and create a stronger team that will garner greater regional and national interest.
“It will take two or three years before we can put a good system in place, but I feel we have the potential to do that,” she said.