The Whitehorse Glacier Bears Swim Club has a new head coach.
Malwina Bukszowana, 32, arrived in Whitehorse last week and was welcomed by the club with a barbecue at the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum on Sunday.
“It’s a completely different life. I’ve never lived in some place like the Yukon before,” said Bukszowana. “I know the winter will be freezing, so it will be a completely different place for me.
“I will deal with the square tires,” she added, referring to when car tires freeze solid, leaving one side flat where the tires met the ground. “We have cold winters in Poland, but it lasts maybe a month.”
Bukszowana, who is originally from Poland, was the head coach of the Trojan Swim Club in Dublin, Ireland, the last four years. It was during her time at the Trojan club she first learned of the Glacier Bears.
Whitehorse siblings Thomas and Luke Bakica, two of the Glacier Bears’ top up-and-comers, spent time training at the Trojan club a couple years ago. Bukszowana kept in touch with the Bakica family and through them heard of the position within the club opening up.
“We put an ad on the Swim Canada website and had a couple potential (coaches),” said Glacier Bears president Shelby Workman. “We had a lady from Romania as well as Malwina from Poland. So we Skype-interviewed them and Malwina seemed to fit our values and club protocol.
“We talked to a few club members in Ireland and lots of parents there really liked her.”
Bukszowana began her swimming career in the pool but had her greatest successes in open-water events.
“I was a pool swimmer at the beginning, then I tried triathlon a little bit, and I found out I like to swim outdoors,” said Bukszowana. “I decided I like open water and competed in a few world cups, world championships, European championships.”
Bukszowana competed at the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne for open water and took ninth place in the 25-kilometre event.
“The one I think was my best was fourth at a world cup in a 19-kilometres (race) in Serbia in 2007,” said Bukszowana.
Bukszowana, who has a Masters in physical education from Poland’s University of Szczecin and senior-level coaching status in Europe, has signed a one-year contract with an option for another year. Her contract begins at the start of September, just before the club gets going again on Sept. 8.
The Glacier Bears club currently has about 112 members including about 30 new members for this season.
Bukszowana is replacing former head coach Stephanie Dixon who was with the club the last two seasons. Dixon, a former paralympian, accepted the position of team ambassador for the Canadian Paralympic Committee for the Sochi Paralympic Games next year in Russia.
“I did intend to come back to the Glacier Bears for another year, but it was a great honour to be named ambassador for the Canadian team, so I couldn’t refuse,” Dixon told the News in a recent interview.
Dixon added she will maintain residence in Whitehorse and intends to stay involved with the Glacier Bears club.
Contact Tom Patrick at