By Emily Sampl/Contributor | Monday, February 29, 2016
With 10 Olympic alumni and plenty of other National and Junior National Teamers over the years, Lakeside Swim Team is well established as one of USA Swimming’s top clubs. After placing Leah Stevens, Kennedy Lohman and Brooke Forde on this year’s National Junior Team, Lakeside earned third place in the 2016 Club Excellence program standings with 34,573 points, as well as a spot in the 2016 Podium Club.
Head coach Mike DeBoor, who has been with the team for 27 years (21 as head coach), credits the consistent coaching staff, tradition of excellence and high expectations within the team to continually finishing among the top teams in the country. DeBoor describes the keys to Lakeside’s success in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.1. Retention. We have a fantastic retention rate, especially for the 13 and overs. We graduated 18 seniors in 2014, 21 seniors in 2015 and have 24 seniors graduating in 2016 – we have been blessed with a very talented group over the years and were able to keep them all in the sport. We realize there will be some down years ahead and are proactively working on developing and trying to push new ones up to the next level. But our ability to keep swimmers in the program has led to seeing most reach full potential.
2. Tradition. With 10 U.S. Olympians in the history of the team and one in each of the last three Olympics, we have developed a tradition with the program that the swimmers respond to and strive to live up to. With three recent (2004, 2008 and 2012) Olympians, they forced the team to improve and brought the younger swimmers up to a new level – leadership and having an athlete show others the way is invaluable to our progress.
3. Expectations. Myself and the staff have very high expectations and the swimmers realize it and strive to live up to the program’s expectations. We expect to be a Gold Medal team, we expect to be in the top of the Scholastic All-American list and we expect to perform at a high level. I have been lucky enough to coach a number of world-class athletes and I think the kids realize it takes a lot to please me. What might be good at most clubs is the norm here, and we try hard to raise the level of expectations for each swimmer.
4. Consistency. I am in my 27th year here and we just recently had our largest staff change this fall. Our consistency has been outstanding; we have consistent lane space, a very supportive parent group and a consistent board that allows our program to stay on track. We try hard to change with the times, without totally disrupting our progress, and I think we try to be consistent in our effort and expectations. Our staff works with a number of levels each and I think that allows for us to be in touch with the younger swimmer and then again as they get older.
5. Atmosphere. Not being on every club’s deck I can't say for sure, but I feel we have an outstanding daily atmosphere and the swimmers are happy and excited to be here. No, they don't love everything we do, but I feel like we are happy and positive as a whole. We try to vary the training and "surprise" swimmers on a regular basis; we have a good competitive approach, and feel that competition is healthy and should be promoted. I think everything listed above leads to a great place to be. We make being on deck our #1 priority, and if we expect the swimmers to work hard and be excited, the staff must create the forum for them and outwork the swimmers every day in terms of being more excited than the swimmers to be there.