Timaru challenge just the ticket for van Stekelenborg

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012
Southland Times photo
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
Long-serving Southland swimming coach Oscar van Stekelenborg will head to Timaru today to take up a new coaching position.

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Oscar van Stekelenborg didn't even attempt to guess how many Southlanders he's taught to swim when he was quizzed yesterday - it's a lot, we know that.

The Wellingtonian arrived in Invercargill in 1991 to take up the position of swimming coach at the now-defunct pool at Queens Park.

The premises have changed through the development of the Splash Palace pool and he has taken on various coaching roles in his 21 years in the city.

The target, though, has remained constant - he has been the key man trusted with teaching the province's youth to swim.

"It's getting to a stage now where mothers are coming up and saying I taught them to swim. I haven't had grandmothers come up to me yet, though," he said, jokingly.

That connection with Southland is, however, over.

Van Stekelenborg walked out of the Splash Palace pool yesterday for one last time and this morning he will hit the road bound for Timaru.

After 21 years in Southland he has decided to move on to take up a coaching role at Timaru's new pool and he will start immediately, taking a session at 4pm today in his new town.

Van Stekelenborg said it was the thought of taking on a head coaching position at a brand new pool that excited him.

"I feel it's time to move on and I'm going to a great opportunity in Timaru," he said.

"It's ideal for me to use my experience.

"I'm head coach there now and responsible for all their sports programmes, not only the competitive side but all types of programmes."

From his lessons over the years have flourished some standouts in the competitive ranks as well: many have gone on to take national honours.

"When I first came, there was Penny Tapper," van Stekelenborg said. "Penny was one of the first here to make what we call the New Zealand age-group trans-Tasman team.

"And then, of course, after that there was Richard Adamson. There was also Stephanie Laughton. Between the two of them, they dominated breaststroke in the age-groups.

"Currently, there's a guy called Josh Hamilton who's going well, and Hannah Morgan.

"They're the two current ones."

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