Andy Colbourn – Neptunes WPSC Head Coach

Andy Colbourn’s love of swimming started way back in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Even though he was only 4yrs old he can still remember watching swimming on TV at the time. His inspiration forthe love of this sport continued to grow when he watched Mark Spitz racing in Munich 1972,winning seven gold medals. Andy started swimming in a club when he was 11 years old and he loved every minute of it, not just for the many medals and records he achieved, but even when he swam badly, he was still happy to be swimming.

image1Andy started coaching swimming in 1982 when he was 18 years old in Wey Valley SC, UK, which was his club at the time. Prior to this he had been teaching swimming with some of the new club members since 1980.

Through the years Andy kept up his swimming coaching and working as a stroke technician, even after he had stopped swimming himself due to very bad glandular fever, which sadly ended his career. He decided to move to Malta in 1991, where he was offered the job of head swimming coach for Neptunes WPSC, to coincide with the opening of the new Neptunes pitch.

After three successful years with Neptunes, Andy moved on to form Manta Rays Masters and Triathlon Club. It was here that he organised the first Gozo – Malta swim with the help of Niky Farrugia. From Manta Rays he moved on to become the National Triathlon coach and director of sport for Birkirkara St Joseph. It was during this time that Andy set up the Gozo – Malta swims as they are known today as well as the coastal swim series. Andy also brought Maltese Triathlon on to new levels with Dermot Galea and Maria Mifsud Bonnici. It was also during this time that he changed how Triathlons were run in Malta, bringing them much more in line with how they are organised abroad.

After his time with Birkirkara St Joseph, Andy moved on to become the National swimming coach, a post he has held for about nine years. During this time it was his pleasure to have coached some of the best swimmers Malta has ever had and with some radical new policies that he was allowed to implement by Robbie Ebejer (the then president of the ASA), Andy was able to bring the swimming clubs and coaches much closer together, something which helped greatly in achieving results that a few years back these seemed impossible to achieve. Swimmers under Andy’s charge have been responsible for setting over 100 new national records, a feat never achieved by any other coach and one that Andy is surely very proud of.

Being back at Neptunes, Andy feels like coming back home. He is determined to continue on what Gail Rizzo has set up during the many years she was head coach, and to develop further and bring more successes to the swimmers and the club.

 

Keith Bartolo – Neptunes WPSC Swimming Coach

keith bartoloKeith Bartolo was born on 19th March 1976 and was brought up in Bugibba. He is married and a proud father of a baby boy. He attended Sacred Heart and went to M.A.Vassalli for secondary school. He continued studying physical education at The University of Malta and graduated in 1998. Later on, he achieved another qualification in fitness and swimming coaching.

Currently he has been reading for a Master’s degree in business and administration.  Keith always had a passion for sports. He played football with the Maltese National Football team and formed part of the Maltese Triathlon National Team.  He eventually stopped playing football and continued practicing triathlon.

He was next influenced by his coach Andy Colbourn to try open water swims. At the age of 24 Keith was representing Malta in open water swimming competitions in a number of countries and became close friends with the best open water swimmers. As for his accomplishments, he placed with the top eight in many competitions, he swam the fastest times a Maltese has ever done in the Italian Open Water league and was chosen to break a world record which was rewardingly crushed by eight miles.

For the record, the Windermere Warriors were nominated for the 2011 swimming awards in America and placed second.  Keith’s philosophy is to always aim high in life. His dream is to cross the English Channel (the most prestigious swim in the world), which he will surely make it come true in the near future.

Monique Mangion Den Heijer – Neptunes WPSC Swimming Coach

monique mangionMonique Mangion Den Heijer was born in The Hague, The Netherlands on 17th February 1964.  She attended several schools in Holland and in Singapore, where she lived for three and a half years before coming to Malta.  Monique was always a sportive person and practiced several sports when she was young, like Gymnastics, Judo and Tennis, but her preferred sport has always been swimming, although she has never taken it at a competitive level. 

She became more interested in swimming when she was asked to help out in the swimming school where her children used to swim, and got more and more into it when her daughter took this sport seriously and swam for over 10 years with the Maltese National Team.  Monique started teaching and coaching swimming 15 years ago, during which period she has attended several coaching and health & fitness courses.  She was encouraged to teach and coach swimming after realizing the benefits children and adults alike get from taking up and practicing such a healthy sport, no matter what age or ability. 

She believes that learning how to swim is essential for our young ones as we are surrounded by the sea and where water sports are so widely available, and also as a sport, swimming gives them flexibility, agility, stamina and discipline.  Throughout her experience in coaching Monique has learnt that every person is unique and that the coach has to get to know his students individually to get the most out of them and learn their potential.  In the summer months Monique is very busy heading the Neptunes Summer Swimming School with the help of dedicated coaches and helpers.  Swimmers are then encouraged to continue their swimming with the club during the other months of the year, with the hope that they will take swimming to a higher level.  Monique assists the other coaches in the club in training sessions, and she has recently started to coach a masters swimming class. 

Edward Caruana Dingli – Neptunes WPSC Swimming Coach

Edward Caruana Dingli was born on the 24th April 1992 and was brought up in Pembroke. His father, Joseph Caruana Dingli, was a waterpolo national team goalkeeper and captained the national team for numerous years, while his mother Lilian also played waterpolo in her teenage years. With aquatic sports running in his blood, taking up swimming was an obvious choice.

edwardcaruanadingliphotoHe took his first swimming lessons at the age of 7 and soon started taking the sport more seriously. At the age of 13 he moved to Sirens ASC and trained under Monique Mangion Den Heijer, who gave him the opportunity to join the ASA Team for a few sessions every week to be able to train with Malta’s top swimmers. In 2008, he made the move to Neptunes to train with Gail Rizzo’s Top Squad. Soon after joining Neptunes, he qualified for the National Team B for the first time and in summer 2009, was selected to form part of the team representing Malta at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. September 2009 saw him move to train permanently with the ASA team with Andy Colbourn, and in 2012 he became captain of this team. He went on to break national records in the 200m and 400m freestyle and individual medley events, as well as all the male and mixed relay records. He retired from swimming in summer 2015 after participating in the 2015 Summer Universiade.

He is currently in his final year of the law course at the University of Malta and is serving as Secretary General of the Malta University Sports Club which gives him the opportunity to be part of the administrative sports scene and has given him many opportunities locally and internationally.

Edward has been coaching swimming since the age of 14. He started teaching swimming as a summer job, but the joy and satisfaction of the job quickly made it a passion of his and he soon started taking on various coaching jobs to gain more experience and become a better coach. He started coaching at the Neptunes Summer School in 2010, later taking on winter classes too and assisting Monique in the running of the summer school. Coaching an older, competitive team was always a dream of his, and he was given the opportunity to start coaching the Neptunes Top Squad, together with Andy Colbourn, in 2016. Coaching the same team which he formed part of only a few years ago and working with one of Malta’s top coaches is a dream come true for him and he is looking forward to what the future holds for him and the club!