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Bangkok Faces: Cindy Adair-Bolakoso, Bangkok Patana School

Your Name: Cindy Adair-Bolakoso
Job Title: Aquatics Director/Head Coach Swimming Bangkok Patana School

1. What is your nationality and background?
I was born in Sydney, Australia to New Zealand parents. I grew up in Australia and New Zealand completing Primary School in Sydney, Secondary School in the South Island of New Zealand in beautiful Wanaka and University back in Australia at the University of Canberra where I studied Sports Science and Career Counselling for Elite Athletes.

2. What is your profession?
I am a Sports Coach and Manager. I plan and deliver aquatics programmes to swimmers of all ages and abilities. I am also a coach trainer and deliver accrediated courses in Swimming and Lifesvaing via the Australian Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association and Royal Lifesvaing Society of the UK respectively. I am also still a squad coach myself and can be found poolside each afternoon and early mornings with my students.

3. What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
My role takes dedication and organisation. You need to love being outdoors and active but most importantly you must enjoy supporting children in their learning journey. Swimming is a long term project for most children so being able to break things down and set small targets to keep things interesting is also a plus. As a coach your role is as wide and varied as your students, you are a motivator, a drill sergeant, a confidant and a leader. Most importantly I think you need to be an excellent communicator who is friendly and approachable but also fair and firm.

4. How did you get involved in your profession?
I was a competitive swimmer as a child doing Surf Lifesaving, Pool Swimming, Open Water and Triathlon throughout school and University.  I began coaching at age 14 as a part time job at my local pool and loved it. I studied coaching science at University and have since been employed in the Aquatics industry in Australia, the Fiji Islands and now Thailand. Swimming and coaching has always been my passion.

5. How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
Swimming is a life skill which can save your life. I take my responsibility to teach this very seriously. Competitive swimming is a fantastic sport, which in addition to being great for fitness and fun, can teach the important character traits of discipline, goal setting, resilience and hard work. Here in Thailand swimming offers welcome respite from the heat and is a fantastic stress buster for all.

Some interesting studies are emerging from Australia right now that suggest that swimming during the early years can enhance a child’s development and lead to acquisition of key developmental milestones earlier than their non-swimming peers.

6. What challenges do your face in this role?
The hardest challenge is convincing swimmers (and their parents) to take a long term approach to their sport. Not to focus on immediate results but to see their journey as a lifelong pursuit. I like to think that my athletes will enjoy success now but also enjoy a lap or two as adults. Nothing makes me prouder as a coach than a student-athlete who can balance academics and sport and returns to visit me and still swims for fun/fitness/competition as an adult.

7. What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
I hope to help children achieve their potential in the pool whatever that may be. I hope to promote a lifelong love of swimming and the water.

8. Who or what inspires you?
I come from a family of Swimming Coaches and administrators. My Father and Brother are both active in the industry just like me. I am a Self-help book junkie. I love reading and in particular admire the work of Malcolm Caldwell (The Outliers) and Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code). I run a Facebook forum for South East Asian Swim Coaches and I draw a lot of encouragement from sharing ideas with my colleagues many of whom have become friends.

9. Only a Bangkok local would know …
That Rama IX Park off Srinakarin Rd is one of the most fantastic parks for exercising and relaxing. If you visit on weekends entry is free before 9am and you can see hundreds of people exercising – walking, jogging, cycling, playing tennis, swimming, children scooting, tai chi classes, yoga classes and more. You can also spot amazing monitor lizards and birds. There is also an excellent market selling fresh fruits, veges and fish outside the main entrance on the weekends.

(Editor’s note: This article is sponsored content from KiS International School.)

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