By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Thursday, May 4, 2017
Only a couple of years into the team’s existence, Austin Swim Club in Austin, Texas has already garnered two spots in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence rankings – a bronze medal finish in 2016, and now a silver medal finish in 2017.
“We were bronze in our first year, and knew that gold could be in the cards,” said head age group coach Chris Coghill. “We were thrilled with silver in our second year and gold is definitely in our sights. The program evaluates the strength of an entire program, and we couldn’t be more proud of our rankings.”
With just about 250 kids on the team, Coghill and the rest of the Austin Swim Club staff are focused on providing an exceptional experience for every athlete, both in and out of the pool.
“We’re not interested in being a particularly large team; we think where we are now is really ideal in terms of the ratio and knowing every swimmer,” he said. “Because of our size, we have a relationship with every individual coming through our door –not just as swimmers, but as people.”
Coghill describes his diverse and enthusiastic staff and other keys to the team’s quick rise in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
1. Enthusiasm the staff brings. Our energy and desire to improve, and our competitiveness with each other really keeps us on our game. We take pride in being extremely active on deck and being a source of energy for everyone that’s in the water and around the facility. We never stop moving and we’re really into the practice. If the swimmer gets to practice, we’ll help them get what they need out of it. Everyone has moments of weakness but we hope that by working as a team we can always provide the energy the team needs. We have a wide array of experiences on our staff – Olympic level to Division III, top-level club swimming to only swimming high school. That’s accented by our energy and helps us work together really well.
2. The enthusiasm has fed into the culture of the team. Our culture stems from that enthusiasm and that energy. Our swimmers have bought into the system and come to practice to be better swimmers. If they hear a hard set, they don’t sigh or roll their eyes. They’re here and they’re ready to work. They put in the work, and they see results. The culture of accountability is really what it comes down to; it’s their swimming, no one else’s. We’ve taught that in and out of the water.
3. We’re extremely fortunate to use this facility that’s entirely ours; we have free reign over it. The swimmers are responsible for helping take care of it; it’s theirs and they have to respect it and understand that.
4. Our dryland training is really special and unique. Teaching our athletes how to move and use their body has really helped us; our kids are strong and fit, but they’re also safe. Being able to coach the swimmers through their careers with dryland is awesome.
5. As an entire team – coaches and swimmers – we work to understand, trust and follow the process. This is not an instant gratification sport in any way. We want to make sure our kids have a great swimming career; it’s not about one season. We want swimmers who can swim as long as they want, who can love swimming as long as they want and who can improve throughout their entire career. We’re always looking down the road; how can we help our kids be successful at the next step, the next level.