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Gary MacDonald named as new Acadia swimming head coach

Acadia announced March 31 the hiring of former Dalhousie assistant (and long-time Halifax Trojans head coach) Gary MacDonald as the new head coach of the Acadia swim teams.
Acadia announced March 31 the hiring of former Dalhousie assistant (and long-time Halifax Trojans head coach) Gary MacDonald as the new head coach of the Acadia swim teams.

WOLFVILLE - Gary MacDonald brings a wealth of experience to his new job as head coach of the Acadia swim teams.

Acadia Athletics announced March 31 that MacDonald, a Halifax resident originally from Mission, B.C., had been hired to replace interim head coach David Fry.

Fry was the coach for the 2014-2015 season, and capped an outstandiing year by being named AUS Male Swimming Coach of the Year.

MacDonald is more than familiar with Fry and his coaching methods, having served as Fry’s assistant at Dalhousie from 2004 until Fry’s first retirement in 2012.

He continued as an assistant to current Tigers’ head coach Lance Cansdale through this past season.

MacDonald’s experience includes time spent in the pool and on the pool deck as a coach. He won a silver medal in the 4x100 medley relay at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and was also the Canadian record holder in the 50-metre freestyle.

He also won two silver medals in relay events at the 1975 Pan-Am Games and was a gold and bronze medalist at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton.

His coaching career began at York University in 1979-1980, a season in which he led his team to a third-place finish at the CIAU (CIS) national championships. 

He then moved on to coach the Canadian Dolphin swim club in Vancouver until 1983, then switched coasts to take over the Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club. He remained there for 21 years before moving to Dalhousie 11 years ago.

His coaching career has included a long list of accomplishments. As individual highlights, MacDonald cites coaching Carwai Seto who swam at the 1988 Olympics and Iona Allen who won gold in 400 IM at the 1992 national championships.

At Acadia, MacDonald is looking forward to leading an up-and-coming program with a lot of history behind it.

“I’m excited to be leading the Acadia swim program as head coach. My goal is to achieve excellence by coaching each athlete to (his or her) fullest potential within the positive and inspirational environment that is Acadia University," he said.

“I look forward to Acadia’s swim team representing a competitive and respected force in the Atlantic and national rankings.”

MacDonald takes over an Acadia team that placed a strong second (behind Dal) in the conference standings in 2014-2015 and qualified seven swimmers, three of them rookies, for the CIS nationals.

In all, Acadia was represented at nationals by eight swimmers, allowing the Axemen and Axewomen to compete in relays as well as individual events.

Athletic director Kevin Dickie sees MacDonald’s addition as a means of continuing the program’s recent success.

“We’re very excited to have a coach of Gary’s calibre take over our swimming program,” Dickie said in a March 31 release. “His pedigree is outstanding, both as a swimmer and more recently as a career coach. Through discussions over the past couple of weeks, I know he is a perfect fit moving forward.”

Dickie pointed out that Acadia “is one of a very small group of CIS swimming schools to have won a national championship (the Acadia women won back-to-back national titles in 1977 and 1978), so there is history there.”

In recent years, since the program regained varsity status in 2009, “that foundation has been reset. We had our best season in 34 years in 2014-2015. We’re excited Gary is walking into a very positive environment and will help it advance,” Dickie added.

Acadia Athletics announced March 31 that MacDonald, a Halifax resident originally from Mission, B.C., had been hired to replace interim head coach David Fry.

Fry was the coach for the 2014-2015 season, and capped an outstandiing year by being named AUS Male Swimming Coach of the Year.

MacDonald is more than familiar with Fry and his coaching methods, having served as Fry’s assistant at Dalhousie from 2004 until Fry’s first retirement in 2012.

He continued as an assistant to current Tigers’ head coach Lance Cansdale through this past season.

MacDonald’s experience includes time spent in the pool and on the pool deck as a coach. He won a silver medal in the 4x100 medley relay at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and was also the Canadian record holder in the 50-metre freestyle.

He also won two silver medals in relay events at the 1975 Pan-Am Games and was a gold and bronze medalist at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton.

His coaching career began at York University in 1979-1980, a season in which he led his team to a third-place finish at the CIAU (CIS) national championships. 

He then moved on to coach the Canadian Dolphin swim club in Vancouver until 1983, then switched coasts to take over the Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club. He remained there for 21 years before moving to Dalhousie 11 years ago.

His coaching career has included a long list of accomplishments. As individual highlights, MacDonald cites coaching Carwai Seto who swam at the 1988 Olympics and Iona Allen who won gold in 400 IM at the 1992 national championships.

At Acadia, MacDonald is looking forward to leading an up-and-coming program with a lot of history behind it.

“I’m excited to be leading the Acadia swim program as head coach. My goal is to achieve excellence by coaching each athlete to (his or her) fullest potential within the positive and inspirational environment that is Acadia University," he said.

“I look forward to Acadia’s swim team representing a competitive and respected force in the Atlantic and national rankings.”

MacDonald takes over an Acadia team that placed a strong second (behind Dal) in the conference standings in 2014-2015 and qualified seven swimmers, three of them rookies, for the CIS nationals.

In all, Acadia was represented at nationals by eight swimmers, allowing the Axemen and Axewomen to compete in relays as well as individual events.

Athletic director Kevin Dickie sees MacDonald’s addition as a means of continuing the program’s recent success.

“We’re very excited to have a coach of Gary’s calibre take over our swimming program,” Dickie said in a March 31 release. “His pedigree is outstanding, both as a swimmer and more recently as a career coach. Through discussions over the past couple of weeks, I know he is a perfect fit moving forward.”

Dickie pointed out that Acadia “is one of a very small group of CIS swimming schools to have won a national championship (the Acadia women won back-to-back national titles in 1977 and 1978), so there is history there.”

In recent years, since the program regained varsity status in 2009, “that foundation has been reset. We had our best season in 34 years in 2014-2015. We’re excited Gary is walking into a very positive environment and will help it advance,” Dickie added.

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