Now a coach, Hayden Adams started his swimming career with swimming lessons when he was eight-years-old, but it wasn’t until he started with the Windsor Bluefins that he really began enjoying the sport.
WINDSOR, N.S. - During the 2017 swimming provincials in Windsor in mid-August — above the sound of splashing, the cheering crowd and the whistles blowing — someone yelling “Go! Go! Go!” could be heard.
That sound was Hayden Adams, head coach of the Windsor Bluefins, with his deafening, booming voice, getting slightly more hoarse as the event progressed.
He runs up and down the sidelines with his swimmers, with a big grin on his face, encouraging them every metre.
“It’s just rewarding seeing the swimmers achieve what they want to achieve,” Adams said at the Hants Aquatic Centre, on a much quieter day than the provincials.
“Ultimately I do think that it’s more important what the swimmer does than what the coach does because at the end of the day I’m just the one yelling.”
Adams, who sports a blond man-bun and friendly smile, has finished his third season as head coach for the swim club, but his history with the Windsor Bluefins dates back much further.
“I didn’t know if I’d be a good fit for coaching, but I thought I’d see how it goes,” he said. “I’ve been here for three years so I must be doing something right.”
The team was very small during his first year as coach, approximately 13 swimmers registered. That was a big change from when Adams was a member of the Bluefins in 2005, when the team was approximately 130 strong.
“It was a little jarring to come back to, but I was happy to work with whoever was there,” he said. “I just felt that based on my history with swimming, I used my knowledge that I had and used it with the kids I was working with.”
The Bluefins are growing again; Adams said he’d like to see the team have forty to fifty participants within the next couple of years.
Swimmer to coach
Growing up in Brooklyn, Adams started swimming lessons when he was eight-years-old, but it wasn’t for him — at least not at the start.
“I did that for two summers and I won’t lie, I hated it,” he said. “It just wasn’t for me. I loved the water, but I don’t think I liked being told what to do.”
It wasn’t until the end of the second summer when his friends showed him what the Bluefins were all about.
He joined the swim team in the summer of 2005 and instantly fell in love with it.
His first individual medal was at the Digby provincials in 2007, where he won the 50–metre backstroke.
During the 2009 provincials, which were held in Windsor, he won two gold and two silver medals.
He stuck with the Bluefins until 2009, when he joined the Wolfville Tritons to swim year-round until graduating from high school.
He began swimming with the Acadia Axemen swim team during university.
“I would say my third year of university would have been my peak, when I won the 100- and 200-metre backstroke during the Atlantic University Sport conference,” he said. “I definitely feel like I accomplished what I wanted to as an athlete. I didn’t have any regrets when I stopped swimming.”
Tough but fair
Adams said his coaching style is a balance between pushing the swimmers to try harder while also encouraging them.
“I try to strike a balance between tough, fair and approachable,” he said.
“I’ve had my fair share of coaches that I didn’t really resonate well with and others that were awesome. I kind of looked back and thought about what I expect from a coach and give that back to my swimmers,” Adams continued.
“I really just want to show them that I’m excited for them as well,” he said. “When I stopped swimming, the first few days were really rough. I felt really empty; there was a part of my life that was missing. Coaching very quickly filled that hole.”
Adams is also an assistant coach with the Wolfville Tritons, which he works with year-round when he’s not with the Bluefins.
“I’m still very involved with the swimming community, and I’m helping the next generation of swimmers achieve what they want to achieve,” he said.
During the provincials in Windsor, Adams took home the Spirit of Swimming Award, bestowed on him by his coaching peers.
“Swimming is such a special sport. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, everyone is friends and everyone is there to push each other,” he said.
Lisa Lebrasseur, president of the parent association with the Windsor Bluefins, said Adams has been a huge boost to the team since he started coaching.
“Because he was a swimmer and came up through Acadia, that knowledge has come to the Bluefins for the past three years,” Lebrasseur said. “He’s also brought enthusiasm and a passion for swimming to the team.”
Lebrasseur said her daughter Isabelle, who has been on the team for four summers, has made significant strides in her technique and skill since Adams joined as head coach.
She added that his coaching helped the Bluefins to make best times and take home some medals during the recent provincials.
When it came to Adams winning the Spirit of Swimming Award, Lebrasseur said simply “they picked the right person.”