Canadian swim coach Tony ‘TK’ Kennedy dies


Coach TK Kennedy with Nicola McKinney.


Senior Sports Reporter


POPULAR Canadian swim coach Tony “TK’ Kennedy, who helped to establish the Barracuda Swim Club as one of the most competitive teams in the Bahamas Swimming Federation, passed away last week.

Reports reaching The Tribune indicated that Kennedy, who coached the Barracuda 1984-1987 and again from 1989-2000, died in hospital in his hometown in Canada. He was 78.

Condolences, however, poured in from a number of his swimmers and an arch-rival swim coach as they reflected on Kennedy’s tenure in the Bahamas and as a coach of a number of national swim teams that represented the country overseas.

London-based lawyer Nicola McKinney felt Kennedy was larger than life.

“Everyone on the swimming scene would recognise him and know who he was,” said McKinney, who was one of the top female swimmers during his era.

“I think the impression that I had most about him was not only did he drive his swimmers hard, but he inspired us to be the best that we could be.

“I think that transcended beyond the swimming world because a lot of his swimmers have gone on to do very well academically and that is a tribute to his legacy. A lot of us owe him a debt of gratitude for that.”

McKinney, a graduate of Queen’s College and the University of Harvard, is now a lawyer in London. She said she’s dealing with the curfew rules as they battle with the coronavirus in England.

Her younger sister, Olivia McKinney, is also in London where she is a doctor. She too spent some considerable time training under Kennedy. However, she was unavailable for comments.

Kennedy, who also coached numerous national teams at CARIFTA, Caribbean Islands Swim Championships (CISC), CCCAN and the Pan American Games, was remembered by Sean Andrews as a mentor.

“He was a big part of my life from I was six years old until I stopped swimming in 1988,” said Andrews, a graduate of Queen’s College who got his BA from Macalester College and MSc in Information Technology from Boston University.

“He instilled in me the drive to excel in life and his lessons has followed me to this day. He was tenacious. He would get the best out of you. He was old school, so it was no pain, no gain with him. He was very competitive and he encouraged me to do all I could to be the best that I could be. I run my business the same way in a competitive manner.”

As the owner of IDNet Ltd, an IT consultant company and now a full-time triathlete and the reigning Caribbean Masters champion for the Olympic Distance, Andrews said Kennedy will certainly be missed because he left an impressionable mark on so many swimmers’ lives.

If there was a Hall of Fame for swimming in the Bahamas, Andrews feel Kennedy would definitely be inducted into it because he helped to change the face of the Barracudas during the time he spent here.

Dorian Roach, one of the talented members of his family out of St Andrew’s School who spent one year swimming under Kennedy before he went to the University of Georgia via Bolles School, said his former coach was eccentric and a character to behold.

“He was a very good coach. I remember the Barracudas back then had a big rivalry with the Sea Bees before we had a huge one with Swift,” Roach said.

“It was a friendly rivalry. He was a great coach with a different style from the other coaches. He was very eccentric, but he was fun to be around. I remember if you were doing something that he didn’t like, he would let you know about it.”

Roach, now the president of the Bahamas Triathlon Association and an executive at John Bull, recalled the highlight of his swimming career was when he competed at the Pan Am Games with Kennedy as the head coach. He also competed on a number of the other national teams like CARIFTA, CISC and CCCAN.

Andy Knowles, who created Swift as the first swim club in the Bahamas owned and operated by a coach, said there were so many fond memories that he shared with Kennedy as they coached against each other.

“I was just getting on the competitive side of coaching, producing swimmers like Allan (Murray), my son Jeremy (Knowles) and that whole scene with Swift Swimming,” Knowles said.

“We had a lot of fun things with the competition stuff. Now parents get so involved, but back then, we did a lot of fun stuff with our clubs. With both of us being so competitive, we produced the best out of our swimmers.”

Knowles noted that they developed some good memories between Swift and the Barracudas at St John’s and St Andrew’s schools before the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex was opened in 2000 with the 50-metre pool.


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