By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Thursday, March 1, 2018
After finishing atop USA Swimming’s Club Excellence Program for three straight years (2012-2014) and in second place the next two years (2015-2016), SwimMAC Carolina found itself in unfamiliar territory in 2017 when the team dropped to silver medal status. The drop in ranking served as a huge wake up call to head coach Terry Fritch and the rest of the staff, who immediately got to work.
Their hard work paid off, as SwimMAC jumped back into gold medal status and finished second overall in 2018 behind four-time champion Nation’s Capital. The team appears to be back on track after winning the girls and combined team titles at the recent Speedo Junior Nationals-East and training the most scholastic all-Americans of any club team in 2016-2017 at 35. Fritch details the keys to the team’s turnaround and continued success in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.
1. Two years ago we lost our gold medal status and were a silver medal club. That reengaged us and helped us set a goal. Going into last year we really set a goal of getting back our gold medal status. Creating a pathway to meet that goal helped us focus and hone in on being a gold medal team again.
2. Long course focus. Both sites have the opportunity to swim long course, although it’s not daily. We’re somewhat limited but it doesn’t change our mindset; our athletes think about long course and it’s a part of how we plan our practices and our meets. It’s always a part of our thinking. Long course is important throughout the whole year.
3. Our staff and athletes are always getting their eyes around what high level swimming looks like. Whether it’s the pro series, juniors, nationals or stroke videos. Elite coaches visit our programs and we host high level meets and our kids keep learning. We’re always trying to be better.
4. Athlete legacy. The kids that move into our senior group learn a great deal from the kids who are leaving the program and going to college. Believing that they can perform and meet their goals, and watching the athletes who are older than them they can see what it takes to become a high level swimmer. It’s a culture of our older athletes leaving a legacy for our younger athletes.
5. Dryland. We’re very fortunate to have dryland partners that do a few things – they coach athleticism and make sure our kids are great athletes. They adapt the training to help coordinate the body in the water. Kids don’t have to worry about holding their breath on land, they can perform the movements easily and have already learned the movements when they get in the pool. And lastly there’s the strength component – our swimmers have become stronger and more athletic.