Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club coach Graham Knox has been named as Children’s Coach of the Year by Sport NI.
The local man saw off 15 other nominees to take the top award, having been nominated earlier in the year by club chair Kirsty Pinkerton.
“The role Graham plays in encourgaing participation, development and excellence in the sport of swimming is priceless,” she said.
“Throughout the years, Graham has worked tirelessly behind the scenes preparing training programmes and teaching and coaching swimmers to help improve their skills; with one aim, to help them achieve their potential.
“Under Graham’s coaching, a number of young swimmers have certainly excelled which is very rewarding and wonderful to see because it encourages the younger swimmers.”
Graham was instrumental in achieving what was a historic year for BASC, as, for the first time in club memory, 20 swimmers achieved IAG Division One qualifying times with a further 14 getting Division Two QTs.
On top of that, the club were runners up in the B final of the Forest Feast Aqua Sprint League.
Graham, who is also a coach with the newly established Regional Training Squad and for Swim Ulster, paid tribute to the swimmers after receiving the award.
“I believe it’s not based on my performance, but on the performance of the swimmers I had this year,” he said.
“It’s a good thing for our club. We are one of a few swimming clubs which is totally amateur so for us to be recognised is nice.
“My swimmers did very well this year. We normally have up to 10 swimmers at the Irish Age Groups and we had 21 this year, and we managed to get a medal, which is fantastic too. We had five top 10 swimmers.
“I have lots of people to thank. Davy Wilson, my fellow coach, he and I make a good team and he deserves a fair bit of credit. The rest goes back to the people that have to perform.
“Coaching is easy compared to the pressure on the swimmers competing.”
Club Chair Pinkerton said that Graham is a “contagious, refreshing and fun-loving personality” to have at BASC and concluded that “we believe our club is very lucky to have such a remarkable individual.”