The Mother-Daughter Duo of the Petawawa Predators Swim Club

Che & Janice Breckon


“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. When you put it into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you put it into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This quote made by the most influential martial artist, Bruce Lee, has transcended time. Philosophically, it calls on us to be adaptable and open minded in the face of change, to be gentle enough to respect the life we each have been gifted, and powerful enough to break through the many obstacles and struggles it places before us. Speaking more literally, water has the ability to heal, both spiritually and physically. Swimming is one of the most relaxing things we can do, but it is also considered one of the most difficult sports to pursue. In Petawawa, Ontario a mother daughter duo has dedicated their lives to the mastery of this graceful and unpredictable element, and in turn, have decided to share their passion with the community.

Coaches Janice and Che Breckon of the Petawawa Predators Swim Club have a deep connection to swimming that has touched both their lives since a young age. Janice Breckon grew up in aquatics and was a lifeguard and coach at the community pool in Deep River, Ontario. She would bring her daughter, Che Breckon, to work with her and taught her how to swim between her shifts at the pool. Their bond only strengthened their passion for swimming as Che grew older. “I kind of fell into it. Naturally, we’re both Pisces and fish right to the heart.” she joked with a wide smile, as she told me her and her mother’s story. Unfortunately, by age 10 she had developed hip dysplasia but her love for aquatics did not deter her from continuing to pursue her passion despite the challenges her health had presented her. “I didn’t want to leave the deck. I was super into swimming; I loved my team. So, I started coaching.” Che would then become the coach of the little kids’ program at the community pool when she entered high school. By her senior year she was coaching the 10-13 age group, all while her mom Janice worked as the head coach of the swim club. “We really spent every day after school together on the pool deck. I was just hooked.” From 2011 to 2014 Che Breckon continued to coach in Deep River. However, due to personal reasons, she felt the need for a change in her life and sought out a place that would share her values as a coach. Ultimately, she landed in Petawawa where she not only secured a spot on the lead coaching staff, but also became the human resources contractor for the Petawawa Predators Swim Club. Keeping up with their lifelong theme of being a mother daughter duo, Janice Breckon also moved to Petawawa where she is head coach of the Predators.

Che would go on to develop what she likes to call the “coaching pyramid”. The bottom layer comprises of Janice who oversees the developmental programs. When asked what makes Janice such a special part of the Predators coaching team, Che was as complimentary as ever. “She’s a gifted teacher by play, and it reaches the kids every time. She’s the silly old Granny that’s jumping in and cannonballing, making things fun.” She said with a laugh. “The extra special thing about my mom as the head coach is she’s really capable of working with kids on the spectrum and kids with ADHD. We’ve seen so many families come to our club because of Janice. At 66, this woman continues to learn she’s still growing as a coach and that is a prime example of what coaching should be.” The next two levels of the pyramid consist of pre-teens and teens looking to broaden their roles with the Petawawa Predators. The first consists of swimmers with prospects of coaching. Ranging in age of 12-13, these junior coaches shadow the head coach to learn – much like Che did. The next rank is made up of highschoolers, ages 16 and up, who are looking for employment and have already been in the framework as a junior coach, making them assistant coaches. “These two groups are so key and are so important. We can’t run this club without them.” Che remarked. “We rely on those two groups to support the development of their peers and the up-and-comers of the club.”

Che heads the top of the pyramid overseeing the performance and technical programs of the club. Her love for the competition side of swimming going back to her days as a coach in Deep River. “I fell in love with performance swimming, and I really got excited about how good we could be from such a little place.” Che continued “We are a competitive club, but we accept all people at all skill levels.” Together, Janice and Che Breckon have built an incredible ecosystem of swimmers that help one another and come together as a solid unit. However, their vision for the Predators does not stop at the doors of Dundonald Hall. “I believe in the power of small communities. I believe in good coaching and good facility partnerships can truly support the level of opportunity that our kids deserve.” Che’s words burned with a fiery passion as she spoke. “When you talk about vision, I want to go a layer deeper than that which is to create a sanction of small-town clubs so that we can run as a pack.”

Che’s ambition for the future and her strong sense of community and inclusivity only grew and emboldened with time. With her and Janice working side by side, they instill those strong values into their students at the swim club. Che also took the time to acknowledge and important and sometimes overlooked component to community sports. “I want to shoutout to the parents because we can’t do this without the parents. When we work together with families and we get to know each other, it just sings man. It’s the best.”  The Petawawa Predators Swim Club will surely continue to grow and inspire many young athletes as Che and Janice Breckon have done and continue to do by sharing their stories with our community.


  • Tracie Davies
    October 17, 2022 at 10:01 am

    These two women are amazing individuals! Any swimmer/family would be fortunate to be not only coached by them but to have their presence in their lives!

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