By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Thursday, January 19, 2017When head coach Paul Silver started the Marlins of Raleigh swim team back in 2001, the club had six swimmers. Over the past 15 years, they’ve grown to nearly 600 swimmers at three different sites, and placed Madison Homovich on the 2017 National Junior Team, in addition to sending more than a dozen swimmers to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
After a strong 2016 in the pool and numerous silver and bronze medal finishes in the team’s history, Marlins of Raleigh has earned its first-ever gold medal ranking in the 2017 Club Excellence program rankings, finishing second to Nation’s Capital Swim Club with 45,915 points.
“We were high up in the silver medal rankings a year ago, so being a gold medal club has been a goal for quite some time,” said Silver. “We’ve been silver for maybe 13 years, so we’re certainly very proud of that accomplishment this year.”
Coach Silver and his staff take pride in the hard-working, enthusiastic swimmers and helpful parents that have helped the team get to this point. Silver details five keys to the team’s success in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
1. Our staff. Five of us have been with the team for over 10 years, and some have been in Raleigh since 1980 or earlier. It’s a really cohesive group working out of one office where we bounce ideas off each other. It’s a dynamic environment; we all love kids and there’s constant one on one feedback and attention to detail.
2. Our athletes. Our athletes are really enthusiastic at practice and meets – the kids cheer for each other at practice and that’s something everyone notices. Our work ethic is really high; these kids are resilient and bounce back from setbacks, and they’re accountable for what they’re doing.
3. Competition. The level of competition at meets really allows the lower level kids to strive to get to the higher level competitions like junior nationals and nationals. We have three practice sites, but at meets, we compete as one team and the sites are all together. Our team goals are really high – senior nationals, junior nationals, etc. – we always have to stay on our toes because there are a lot of great swimmers in the Raleigh area and the rest of the state. Having the Charlotte UltraSwim in the area in years past has also helped raise the bar within our program.
4. Parents. We don’t have a volunteer requirement, but we hold 11 swim meets a year and our parents are willing to come out and help and support the team. We have a large summer league base in this area too, which helps draw kids to the team. With three sites, it’s more convenient for the parents and we can cater to them.
5. Belief in the program. Our athletes have a deep belief in the program and focus on the process of getting from point A to point B. Most of our kids in the senior levels have been here since they were age groupers; they’ve developed friendships here but also seen a ton of progress. As a team and as a coaching staff, we’re never satisfied – we’re always striving to get better. We celebrate our successes, but then we’re on to the next goal.