POOLE head coach Robin Armayan, who has led the club through the most successful spell in its 83-year history, is leaving later this month after landing one of the most sought-after coaching jobs in the country.
The 32-year-old Frenchman has been appointed as assistant head coach at Britain’s top club Plymouth Leander and assistant director of swimming at Plymouth College, who have a swim scholarship scheme linked to the club.
In both cases he will be number two to Olympic gold medal-winning coach Jon Rudd, whose star-studded squad includes Olympic and world champion and world record holder Ruta Meilutyte, four other Olympians, world championship semi-finalist Ben Proud and a host of other internationals.
Rudd was also Britain’s coach of the year in 2012 and 2013.
Plymouth have won the National Arena League five times in six years and are among the top clubs at every national championship.
Rudd, who will be England head coach at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is often away on international duty and Armayan will be in charge in his absence as well as coaching the age group and younger youth swimmers.
Armayan said: “It’s going to be difficult leaving the Poole swimmers after five-and-a-half years.
“But it’s a big step and I am so excited about it. I can’t wait. I will learn so much from Jon.”
Their were tears aplenty when the popular coach broke the news to his swimmers on Monday.
“I tried to make it clear that it wasn’t anything to do with them,” he said. "I tried to tell them that Plymouth are the top club in the country and I couldn’t say no to that. But it was hard. There were a lot of tears especially from the girls.”
He added: “I’m proud of what we have achieved. At the level the club is now at, I am confident they will attract a good coach and quickly.”
Armayan leaves Poole in vastly better shape than he found it.
The club he inherited in 2008 had just three regional and no national qualifiers.
By 2012, they had 38 regional qualifiers and 18 national swimmers, a record for any Dorset club, plus best-ever results in the county championships.
Poole have also won several medals at the nationals including gold in the boys’ medley relay at the age groups event two years ago.
In league swimming, Poole have twice won the Arena League West Division One and achieved fourth place in a Premier Division won by Plymouth.
Poole SC chairman James Kemmitt said they learned of Armayan’s decision “with great regret”.
“This is a great opportunity for Robin,” he said.
“He leaves with our sincerest thanks for his contribution to the club’s achievements over the past six years and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him every success for the future.”
Kemmitt said they hoped to appoint a successor as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to the training schedule.
“We want to ensure that we find the right person that can build on Robin’s legacy and continue to take the club forward,” he said.
“Robin will be leaving the club on February 23 and we aim to announce his replacement by February 17.”