Mariano Garcia Nani is about to dive into a new pool of opportunity.
The Hokonui Aquatics swim coach will join Aquabladz New Plymouth Swimming Club as head coach on Monday, taking over the role from Olympic swimming coaches Sue Southgate and Donna Bouzaid.
The Argentinian came to New Zealand in 2015 and two years later became the Hokonui Aquatics coach.
Ms Bouzaid has been his mentor and helped him achieve coaching accreditation, Mr Garcia Nani (34) said.
Five years ago she helped him work out career goals which included becoming a national swim coach.
‘‘We made a plan to go to the Olympics in 10 years.’’
Ms Bouzaid’s advice was he should find the right environment that would help him achieve that goal, he said.
Unfortunately, long-term that was not in Gore but coaching here had been an important part of his journey, he said.
Coaching in New Plymouth would give him opportunities to develop further and was a ‘‘big, big deal’’, he said.
‘‘I think I will do amazing.
‘‘I think definitely I will become the next New Zealand coach.’’
For all that he knew he would have to work hard.
‘‘It’s still a long shot.
‘‘Still I have to work and prove [to] myself that I can be at that level.
‘‘It’s big shoes to fill.’’
There would be a transition time before Ms Southgate and Ms Bouzaid retired.
‘‘It’s going to be one month working with Olympic coaches.’’
Since he had been in Gore he had been approached with six job offers.
‘‘I’ve been very fussy to select the right opportunity,’’ Mr Garcia Nani said.
In the head coach role he would oversee the club’s programme and coaching staff.
Two of the club’s swimmers had represented New Zealand and he was looking forward to coaching swimmers who competed in the open events.
‘‘One of them I will prepare for the Commonwealth [Games] in 2026.’’
When he came to Gore five years ago he and his partner had a suitcase, no car and enough money to rent a house.
Now their fortunes had changed and he was very grateful for the time he had spent in Gore.
‘‘Gore has become part of my foundation as a professional coach.
‘‘I will always look back to this place and remember everything started here.’’
The community had been very supportive, he said.
He was pleased with what had been achieved in his time as coach.
The club had the best swim team in the region and swimmers had become national title winners, he said.
‘‘I will keep them in my heart and my memories.’’
He was grateful to Swimming Southland head coach Jeremy Duncan, who had also mentored him.
Working in the aquatic services team had been enjoyable.
‘‘We share a lot of moments.’’
New Plymouth was a good place for him to live as it was close to the beach and he was looking forward to surfing there, he said.
‘‘It’s the perfect place to surf [with] amazing surf breaks.’’
Hokonui Aquatics swimmers Ava Wiegersma (14) and Clark Jamieson (16) have been coached by Mr Garcia Nani for about five years.
The pair said they were disappointed their coach was leaving.
‘‘But obviously I’m happy for Mariano,’’ Clark said.
‘‘It’s awesome for him because it’s a big opportunity,’’ Ava said.
‘‘I remember him being there when I got my first medal as well, so it’s sad.’’