Former Trail Stingrays coach, Ryan Gurney now an Orca

Former Stingrays coach tests new waters on Vancouver Island.

With the Trail Stingrays hitting the pool this week for another summer of competition, one familiar face will be conspicuously absent from the pool deck.

Former Trail Sting Rays swim coach Ryan Gurney has moved on to bigger challenges, and will coach the Oak Bay Orcas swim team on Vancouver Island this season.

Ryan Gurney studies at the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence in Victoria where he has helped coach a winter swim club, but instead of returning to Trail to lead the Rays for another summer, the Warfield native seized the chance to remain and coach the Oak Bay swimmers.

“I have coached the past three years with the winter swim team on the Island, and an opportunity came up with a local summer swim club,” Gurney said in an email.

“The Oak Bay Orcas swim team brings a new challenge to my coaching career. The club is approximately twice the size of the Rays, so it’s a new challenge for myself, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Gurney of Trail was head coach of the Stingrays for three summers, but helped coach and swam competitively for many more.

Under his leadership, the team won five of its eight swim meets last season including the Regionals for the third year in a row.

“My experience as a coach for the Trail Stingrays is an unforgettable one,” he said. “The memories will stay with me forever, and although the season is about to get underway, it just doesn’t feel right not being home with the Rays.”

The Stingrays coaching duties have been taken up by Rossland’s Samme Beatson, a long-time swimmer with the Rays and swim instructor, the 19-year-old Beatson also won three medals at the provincials last August.

As far as advice for the rookie coach, Gurney suggests she shake things up, be creative, positive and keep the kids keen on returning to the pool every day.

“Change is good, but make the right change. Samme’s experience in the club will help her develop a program that works for the Rays. I also hope to see some of the traditions continue, because the kids really enjoyed them.”

Oak Bay hosts the Provincials this year, and Gurney says he looks forward to seeing a strong Rays contingent.