Bears & Pandas Swimming charts new course Varsity swim program furthers partnership with Keyano; coach Paul Birmingham to lead university swim teams.

Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON - With the goal of raising the standard for the program and the success of their student-athletes, the Golden Bears and Pandas swimming team has partnered with the Keyano Swim Club, highlighted by the addition of Paul Birmingham as the varsity program’s new head coach.

Birmingham, who is also the head coach at Keyano, brings over 25 years of coaching experience to the University of Alberta, with the move strengthening the relationship between the varsity and club programs.

Paul Birmingham
“I am really excited to take on the role as Head Coach for the Golden Bears and Pandas. We have spent a great deal of time working to review the current structure, and to find ways to rejuvenate this program,” said Birmingham.

“Strategically we are investing in High Performance, and the program will be focused on year-round competitive athletes. We want the UofA to be the home for athletes that are using varsity sports as a springboard for success at national and international levels.”

Birmingham joins the Bears and Pandas with an impressive coaching resume, which includes a 10-year stint as the head coach of the Malaysian National Team, as well as running club programs in Australia and the United States.

Additionally, the Bears and Pandas will compete out of the Kinsmen Sports Centre, which has hosted national trial events, and international competitions such as World Championships and Pan Pacific Games.

Kinsmen Sports Centre
“This new iteration of the UofA program will be the first time both the varsity and kenayo teams have been able to unite to work together on a daily basis. Keyano’s Olympic Trial athletes will be joining the UofA Varsity team for every training session to create one united high performance program,” continued Birmingham.

The cross-training between the varsity and club programs, recruiting talented local student-athletes to the University of Alberta, year-round competition and a new team culture will be the key pillars for the new coach in moving the Bears and Pandas towards the top of the Canada West standings.

2019/20 University of Alberta Male Rookie of the Year - Kier Przyswitt
“Expectations of the student-athletes have been made very clear, and they all have risen to the occasion. It is also important for me to continue to develop the sense of ‘team’ in the UofA program,” said Birmingham on his goals for 2020/21 and beyond. “I don’t believe this will be too difficult as it is already more than evident how supportive the current athletes are of each other, and how proud they are of the Green and Gold cap.”

While a big task taking over a university program, Birmingham feels confident in the direction of the program, as well as the high standards he and the team will have in place.

“The University of Alberta has such a tremendous academic reputation it has been sad to see talented athletes leave the province to swim elsewhere. I really feel the varsity team has the potential to be one of the best programs in the nation for developing world class swimming talent.”

** The Golden Bears and Pandas Swim program will be hosting a virtual Town Hall for all alumni and Supporters on September 30th at 7:00 pm MST. To register, clink on THIS LINK. **

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Connor Hood