Meet Our Coaches

Coaching is an art form and a science. To be a good coach takes so much more than a fancy degree or having done it before. Quite often coaching is an amalgamation of roles including but not limited to manager, physiologist, councillor, teacher, personal trainer and of course friend.


Such a diverse array of needs requires a diverse and committed coaching team. If you train with Durham City you have the combined knowledge of all of our coaches and athlete support personnel at your disposal. We know that not every coach suits every athlete; that’s why we structure our club the way we do. We know that what works for one person won’t work for everyone; that’s why we support our coaches learning and promote development and a growth mindset.


Take a look at some of the profiles below to meet our team coaches.



Swimming | Water Polo | Athlete Support Personnel 

Mike Perry


Born in Glasgow and raised in Merseyside, Mike Perry, our Assistant Head Coach joined us in 2015 with (what was) Bronze Squad.  After finishing his first season with Bronze Squad, he moved quickly on to become Silver Squad coach and from there, onto what is now the Performance Squads, P1 and P2.   


Previously a national swimmer himself, Mike understands the pressures of balancing competitive training, home and social life and education and works with athletes to give them the skills they need to be able to balance all these aspects of their lives.


I really enjoy the psychology of sport and I find that an interpersonal approach to training and performance is the best way to go. I love working with individuals and helping them reach their goals.


Mike is currently studying at the University of Sunderland as well as completing the Senior Coach course through Swim England and the Institute of Swimming.




BSc Sports Coaching (Pending)

Swim England Senior Coach

Swim England Teacher

Royal Lifesaving Society Mentor

Team Manager Mod 1&2

UKAD Clean Sport Advisor

Level 3 Award in Education & Training

Level 2 Understanding Mental Health First Aid & Mental Health First Aid Advocacy in the Work Place

BTN Nutrition

Swim England Safeguarding


Experience and Swimming Career


Ashton Central and St.Helen’s Swim Training Scheme

Warriors of Warrington



National Age Groups for 100, 200 Breaststroke, 200 and 400 Individual Medley.



Martyn Dunbar


Martyn, born and bred in Durham and Managing Director of his own decorating company; has been working with Durham City Aquatics since 2016. He describes being badgered by now fellow Coach Steve Ward for many months before he decided it was time to give something back to the club in which he had been a swimmer for so many years.


Martyn has experience as an Assistant Coach to both Mike and previous Head Coach Ben Hatchett. Since then he has taken those all important next steps and has recently embarked on the Swim England Coach course. Now the Lead Coach on A-Squad Martyn continues to work with other coaches to experience as much of the job as possible.


“Coaching is about helping the kids achieve their goals and being open to new coaching techniques is key” - Martyn Dunbar


A keen mountain biker, and an avid photographer Martyn has been given the title of Nisi Visionary for the companies filter brand in the UK. You might see some of Martyn’s work around this website and our social media channels.



Swim England Coach

Team Manager Mod 1

Mental Health for Sport and Physical Activity



Experience and Swimming Career


Lead Coach A-Squad

Assistant Coach Performance 1

Assistant Coach Performance 2




Steve Ward


Steve Ward has been with the club since the “dawn of the millennium”. He has a whole world of experience not just from coaching swimming, but also from learn to swim, officiating and water polo.


After studying a BSc in Civil Engineering at the Heriot Watt University, Steve returned to Durham where he is now a Consulting Engineer and a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers. He was ‘roped into’ coaching when the club was looking for volunteers way back when his own children swam for the club.


Steve says, “Seeing the satisfaction of wonderful people celebrating their achievements, large and small, and knowing that you may have contributed in some small part to their skills is so rewarding.” Adding that “Engineering is about concrete, steel and paperwork, coaching is about people


After his years of service, managing a team of swimming teachers, delivering courses to officials and coaching all as a volunteer; the club awarded Steve with the Lifetime Member Award in recognition of all he has done and is continuing to do for the club and the sport. He was also the clubs nominee for the Contribution to Sport Award.


Steve is currently coaching the Entry Squad program and remains on hand to answer all of our technical queries.



Swim England Coach

Swim England Teacher

Licensed Swim England Official (Swimming)

Licensed Swim England Referee (Water Polo)

RLSS National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches





Ernest Kwok

Ernest Kwok grew up in Hong Kong but came to the UK to study Law at Durham University and joined Durham City Aquatics in 2020 just one month before lockdown. To ensure continued fitness of our athletes in the absence of swimming, Ernest has continued to offer a fantastically popular online land-training option for DCA swimmers.   He is extremely keen to pursue his passion of becoming a swimming coach. 

When asked about his study choices, Ernest says “I chose law because it felt like the right decision at the time. I wanted to study Sports Science at first but I’d spent a lot of time focusing on sports in school and when I went to university, I wanted to broaden my horizon a bit and do something different.”

Ernest is currently a Level 1 Assistant swimming coach.  He particularly enjoys the programming aspect of swim training and the relationships he builds with his athletes. A relative newcomer to the world of swim coaching, Ernest is most proud of the Zoom training sessions he’s designed and delivered over the past few months. He has especially enjoyed seeing the progress that the young athletes have made.  

Something you might not know about Ernest is that he himself is an athlete in the world of Olympic Weightlifting!



Level 2 Olympic Weightlifting Coach

Swim England Assistant Coach

UK Coaching Child Safeguarding





Rachael White


Rachael has been coaching at Durham City Aquatics since September 2020, having come to Durham to study Chemistry. Having studied here, she’s now decided that she wants to make Durham her home.   She’s also continuing her academic career and studying to become a Chemistry Teacher.   


When asked why she wanted to be a swim coach, Rachael says “I used to swim with my local club back in Suffolk and began helping out with the younger groups with Learn to Swim when I was about 10, and began helping with coaching at 16 until I left to go to Durham for university. When I finished my degree, I realised how much I’d missed it, and decided it was time to pick up coaching again!


Rachael has been coaching on and off for about 6 years and thoroughly enjoys working with the team at DCA.


Rachel really loves coaching the younger swimmers in the club. She states, "it’s so rewarding being able to help them grow and develop as swimmers, and learn to love the sport as much as I did at their age.


Something people might be surprised to hear about Rachael is that she spends a lot of her time training as a triathlete, and has recently started barefoot running!




Swim England Assistant Coach