By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Monday, March 27, 2017
After many years of finishing among the silver medal clubs, the Northern Kentucky Clippers have reached gold medal status in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program for the first time in team history, placing 15th in the 2017 rankings.
“The gold medal ranking was deliberate and intentional in our goal setting,” said head coach Norm Wright. “I inherited a great program when I became head coach, and my first day on the job I said ‘hey, let’s take it to the next level.’ We made some intentional changes in terms of seeking out long course opportunities. It became infectious, starting with our older swimmers – getting junior national cuts, etc. The swimmers inspired each other and it’s been very supported by everyone. It’s trickled down from the top and become a whole team goal.”The Clippers closed out a great summer by placing one swimmer – Brendan Meyer – on the 2016-2017 National Junior Team in the 200m fly, and will look to add more names to that list by the end of this summer. Wright details the keys to the team’s success in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.
1. Our staff obviously has been a big part of it. Our staff has an average of 13 years of continued coaching with the Clippers. More than half of the staff has over 20 years of coaching experience. We have cohesiveness and we collaborate a lot and that’s really made a big difference. Being able to bring the kids up through the system – and the coaches – has made a big difference.
2. We’re a Midwest blue collar team. People here pride themselves on hard work. The kids and coaches come from the same area and it’s a go to work mentality – that’s trickled over from the community to our team and how the kids respond to the coaching. That’s been a big asset.
3. Our facility is called Silverlake – the family place. It’s a 10 lane indoor pool, with an additional outdoor pool attached to a water park. The pool was built in 2000 when there were no long course pools here. It’s been our home since 2000 and that’s been a big physical point for our program. We started in 1979 and used to swim in a small six lane pool; adding this pool really changed the face of the program.
4. The Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati area has a rich tradition in swimming. We’ve had a lot of great swimmers come from this area. That’s really started from the summer league programs here, which were established in the 1960s here. Frank Busch, Brent Rutemiller, Cory Chitwood, Nate Dusing – those are just some of the highlighted people to come from here. We have a strong college connection as well. We’ve been able to grow and take pride in our history.
5. Our staff and board are very collaborative on everything we do. The board gives us the freedom to make the best decisions for the program. We provide opportunities for kids at every level – we search out opportunities in this area as well as nationally. We build the schedule around what’s best for the kids, then figure out how to fund it. We have the flexibility to build the program around the kids first. That partnership and commitment to providing the kids with the best opportunities has been a springboard to get us to the gold medal level.