Swim Rotorua Coaches

Swim Rotorua have a great team of qualified coaches, lead by our head coach Alastair Johnson.


Alastair Johnson

Appointed Head Coach in November 2012 with responsibility for all coaching matters, staff development and mentoring, club development initiatives and leadership. Personal strengths include commitment, technique, athlete development and building club structures and pathways. Alastair has a wealth of coaching and teaching experience of over 25 years in England, Scotland, Singapore and New Zealand. His professional highlights so far include National Youth Coach for Scotland, Team Staff at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 World Championships and a recipient of the prestigious Prime Ministers Coaching Scholarship.

Alastair has a fantastic skill set including Learn to Swim delivery, building Clubs and developing High Performance athletes.

He has been awarded Gold Accreditation by Swimmng New Zealand, making him one of the few coaches in the country to achieve elite staus. In May 2018 Alastair recieved an award for NZ Mens & Womens 5km Open Water Coach of the Year. This was from the NZ Swim Coaches and Teachers Association.

 Notable successes include:

  • Age Group coach at the Stockport Metro (one of the best clubs in England)
  • Head Coach at the City of Aberdeen Swim Team (Top age group club in Scotland)
  • National Youth Coach at Scottish Swimming
  • Head Coach at AquaGym Swimming Club
  • New Zealand Team staff at the 2006 Commonwealth Games
  • New Zealand Team coach at the 2007 World Championships
  • Coached swimmers to World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacs, Junior Pan Pacs, Oceania Championships, Trans Tasman competitions
  • New Zealand coach to the 2016 – New Zealand v Australia State Teams
  • AquaKnights Head Coach – Victoria State Championships 2015 and 2016
  • NZ Open Water Coach of the Year Mens & Women 5km




David Boles

I have completed my swim teacher training in 2017 and help coach the junior programme. I really enjoy helping the juniors make lots of progress. I compete at a national level both in the pool and in open water events. In January 2018 I qualified for Oceania Open Water 5km & 10km, to be held in June, in Papaua New Guinea.


Katlin Donnelly

I have been with Swim Rotorua as an assistant coach working with Tara and the Junior Academy for a couple of years now. I am still attending high school and coach after school three times a week. I really enjoy coaching all swimmers in the Junior Academy and seeing them progress onwards to the Turbo or Metro squads. 



Claire Baylis

Hi ... I am Claire Baylis. I have been coaching with Swim Rotorua since 2013, and I currently coach the Turbo and Metro Squads on a Tuesday mornings. I enjoy working with the young swimmers who are keen to improve their skills. I have completed the National Certificate in Recreation and Sport (Aquatics) Swim Education and the SNZ Teacher of Competitive Strokes certification, as well as on-going training from Head Coach Alastair Johnson. I have three children (Stella, Paddy and Jack) who swim for the Club, although Jack and Paddy are currently at university.

I am a current Club Board Member, am on the Club Scholarship Committee, and I work a lot with the local schools. On behalf of Swim Rotorua, I also manage the Making the Difference Water Safety Programme which provides water safety lessons to schools – particularly low decile schools. I would love to see every student in Rotorua to be water safe by Year 8.



Tara Watt

Tara has a combined role of Club Administrator and Lead Coach for the Junior Academy. She has come to Swim Rotorua with a wealth of experience in management, administration and coaching. She's spent 8 year teaching in the Rotorua Lakes Swim School (where she will continue to have a role) - and has already taught a number of our young swimmers in the early stages of their swimming journey.
Tara hails from Essex and is currently studying business and administration part-time. She brings a love of swimming and 'can't wait' to get involved in the next steps on from learn to swim.
Tara is coaching primarily in our Junior Academy alongside Katlin, Samantha, David & James - but also in our outside squads.
Tara's appointment was another part of our commitment to invest more in our coaching programme, help smooth the transition from learn to swim to the club, and to lift the quality of our engagement and support for our athletes and families.



James Baldwin

James is a senior member of our Performance Squad as a competitive swimmer. He races at Nationals too. James completed his swim teacher training along with David in 2017. He enjoy's coaching the juniors.



Samantha Harliwich

Swimming is my passion and has been since I was a swimmer competing in my teens. My coaching background comes from working as a swim teacher in Auckland. Having developed my skills there, I decided to become a Primary school teacher and bestow my enthusiasm for teaching and learning in a classroom. I have now been a school teacher for 27 years. Swimming is a life skill that all New Zealanders should be able to do.

A quote from Michael Phelps sums up my feelings about swimming – ‘Swimming is normal for me. I’m relaxed, I’m comfortable, and I know my surroundings. It’s my home’.


 Greg Kieck


I grew up in a small town and spent most of my spare time in the water. When I graduated from high school, I went to university in Port Elizabeth, a city on the South Coast of South Africa, where I studied accounting. This is where I pursued swimming. I swam for the biggest club in the city called Aquabear Swim Club under Brian Elliot. My love for swimming and competition grew over the years and was privileged to travel all over the world and swim in some amazing places. I was honoured to represent South Africa at the World Student Games on 2 occasions, 2007 in Thailand and 2009 in Serbia.

In 2010, I married my wife, Jann and we now have 3 young, busy boys namely Owen (6), Samuel (4) and Aaron (2). We have decided to make New Zealand our home and look forward to connecting and meeting people in the community.