Homecoming . . . Paulo Brayner is excited to be back in Oamaru taking up the role of the Waitaki Aquatic Centre head coach. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Paulo Brayner has returned to the place he calls home.

The Brazilian swim coach has started working as head coach at the Waitaki Aquatic Centre, having previously been an assistant coach from 2017 to 2020.

For the past 13 months, Brayner has been head coach at Wai Splash Community Pools in Dannevirke.

When former Oamaru head coach Narcis Gherca announced he was leaving, Brayner said the opportunity to return was too good to pass up.

‘‘I’m so happy to see everyone and come to a place, at least here in New Zealand, I can call home,’’ Brayner said.

‘‘The work environment is so cool. I had lots of opportunities here — I was embraced by the community.’’

Brayner, who has 20 years’ experience in the swimming industry, said he was looking forward to bringing his own ideas to the aquatic centre, and swim team, and fondly remembered the talent he helped nurture as assistant coach. He also wanted to increase swimmer numbers post lockdowns.

‘‘I think, for me, what I really want to push is trying to uplift numbers here and work hard to bring back the confidence.

‘‘We have some really, really talented [swimmers] here.’’

Ensuring the pool was part of the community and getting more people involved was at the top of his list.

‘‘It’s a really good facility for this town. We have good structure, it’s totally renovated, it’s beautiful. It’s a good opportunity now,’’ he said.

He wanted to organise community events at the harbour and possibly surfing activities, his other passion, at Campbells Bay.

In the North Island, Brayner worked with children who had special needs, mainly those on the autism spectrum.

‘‘I’m not being just a swim coach for competitives, I’m being a swim coach for the aquatic centre.’’

Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brayner said he was ‘‘born and bred’’ into swimming and surfing in the coastal city, so it was a natural progression to become a swim coach.

In 2015 he moved to Queenstown to study English, and his wife, Claudia Vogel, and son, Davi Vogel-Brayner
(14), followed soon after.

Then his family moved to Oamaru which provided him with lots of opportunities, and suited his family’s lifestyle.

‘‘We decided to live in New Zealand because our values and [the] Kiwi lifestyle matches with our lifestyle.

‘‘It’s one thing when you visit a place, it’s one thing when you live in a place because actually you start becoming part of the society.’’