Imagine being able to say that you have lived in three different countries, have been coached by 15 different people and worked voluntarily just to be eligible to compete in a sport you love, all by the age of 23. On top of all that, picture having to apply for refugee status just to keep your dream alive.

AUT Millennium swim instructor and competitive swimmer Eyad can say exactly that. The Syrian born, Saudi raised swimmer made the decision to move to Aotearoa in 2018. His experiences in Saudi had not been great. With severe restrictions imposed at all pools, Eyad found it almost impossible to train or compete. That decision has already made an impact on the sprint specialist’s career with his performance excelling just four months after arriving in New Zealand. Eyad, who passed high school with an astounding 99%, is part way through a marine engineering qualification but is currently firmly focused on being the best athlete he can be.

The motivated athlete first walked through the doors at AUT Millennium in January 2018. Following an interview for a swim coaching role, Eyad was offered a job teaching the Development and Fitness Squads at the Swim School. Having created and run his own swim programme in an international school in Saudi, Eyad’s extensive experience coaching children aged six to 16 made him an ideal option to inspire our community’s young swimmers. With more than ten coaches helping his own career, Eyad acknowledges that his experiences as a student and athlete have helped develop his ability to lead others.

IMG_2020When asked what he believes is most important for youth swimmers in the fitness squads aged between eight and 15, he replies “Keep consistent. Don’t just stop for two weeks and then come back with an expectation you will be at the same level. Coming back is hard”

Eyad enjoys coaching youth and stresses how important mindset and enjoyment is for
children. With so many kids losing interest in swimming as they enter adolescence,
Eyad explains how he purposefully varies sessions to ensure each child remains
engaged. “I believe it’s important to keep changing,” he says. “I like to keep things different and approach sessions differently. Children at this age shouldn’t get bored, I want them to leave with a smile after having fun.”  

As any parent will know all too well, no two children are the same. With experience coaching for more than four months in New Zealand, Eyad concentrates on coaching each swimmer individually.

“Treat everyone for their own personality, not necessarily their level,” he says. “Find out what they like, what they will accept from the coach. I like to use all the knowledge I have assembled from my various coaches to find something that works for them.”

With his sights set on developing aquatic skills for youth, Eyad emphasises one last point about how he approaches swim coaching. “Never compare swimmers to each other,” Eyad says. “I think it’s important to focus on your own journey.

Eyad’s swim coaching toolbox:

  • Have fun with swimming. Don’t look at it as something hard, an arduous task. Take the challenge and have fun.
  • Leave each session with a smile.
  • Good swimmers swim with their shoulders. Inexperienced swimmers swim with their arms.
  • Avoid rushing the stroke, relax and forget about racing your friends. Work on what you can control.

Eyad’s swimming accolades:

  • Swims eleven sessions per week
  • Each session lasts between 1.5-2.5 hours
  • During the aerobic phase of training Eyad swims 60km per week!
  • Best events: 50/100m butterfly & freestyle