A swimming coach from Argentina is inspiring young swimmers at the Gore Aquatic Centre.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Mariano Nani came to Gore looking for a quiet, peaceful lifestyle after having lived in cities in Europe and the United States.
“I was looking to find a little bit more of an isolated place to live and just work relating to my profession and just by chance I got this opportunity,” he said.
He had coached swimming for about four years now and had been in Gore for 10 months.
While he was enjoying living in the town, he was still getting used to New Zealand culture, which was more conservative than that of his homeland.
“I like to hug, I kiss, I’m passionate, so it’s very different with the way that I express myself. I always have to chill out a little bit.”
Seventy-seven children were enrolled in the squad he coached and four more were hoping to join soon, he said.
He thought his culture helped him with training as he was quite friendly and sociable.
“I think that just makes them comfortable with me and if I see talent, then of course I will push them, but if I don’t and they are just coming for fitness, I just try to create a good environment.”
Outside swimming he liked to read, study Chinese and French and play guitar, he said.
If he was not a swim coach he would like to teach either writing, history or languages.
“The reward that you have with kids, it’s really hard to find in other areas. You’re making a new generation prepared – you can teach values; you can teach good manners. [Teaching is] probably one of the most powerful tools we have.”
When he was younger he did not know he would go on to become a swimming coach, but he had always been sporty.
While it was hard work at the pool, the squad had developed strong bonds and everyone was keen to reach their potential in the pool.
The most important advice he gave to the children he coached was to establish and aim for long-term goals.
“Results come from practice, results come from dedication and effort, and so I try to create a mindset that is looking for hard work and results rather than talent and immediate results.”