By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Wednesday, February 13, 2019
2019 Ranking: 3rd
2018 Ranking: 9th
SwimAtlanta, one of the larger teams in the Atlanta area, made a big jump this year in the Club Excellence program rankings, hopping from ninth a year ago to third in 2019. Head coach Chris Davis credits the Club Excellence program itself for the club’s success, as it gives the team a goal to shoot for and funding to improve the swimmers’ training opportunities.
“Thank you to USA Swimming for the Club Excellence program,” Davis said. “The funding is awesome. The last two years we bought a couple of rowing machines, and that’s really made a big difference. Secondly, having that standard gives all of us something to shoot for as a team and as individuals. The sport has gotten so fast, if you let your guard down, then all of a sudden you’re six months behind.”
Davis describes other keys to SwimAtlanta’s rise to the top three in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia area
Number of Swimmers: About 1,800
Notable Alumni: Olympians Douglas Gjertsen, Eric Shanteau, Kathleen Hersey, Amanda Weir, Hans Dersch
Current Junior Swimmers to Watch: Gigi Johnson, Jake Magahey, Abigail McCulloh, Ashley Neas, Dylan Scott, Lleyton Smith
Recent Team Accomplishments: Finished sixth overall at the 2018 Speedo Winter Junior Nationals – East; placed fifth in the men’s team rankings and 16th in the women’s team rankings; Jake Magahey earned a berth on the 2018-2019 U.S. National Junior Team in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle; while swimming for Mill Creek High School, Magahey recently broke the oldest national public high school record on the books in the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:15.63.
What enables your team to continually finish among the top-ranked swim clubs in the country?
To reach those time standards, you have to have athletes who are capable of swimming at that level and are willing to train to reach that level. Everyone really bought in last year. We set a goal to be top five every year, and all of our locations try to get their kids making the time standards.
What are three things that set SwimAtlanta apart from other club teams?
- We’re coach-owned and coach run. We don’t have a parent group, like many of the club teams in the country. It’s not necessarily better one way or the other, but it’s a major difference for us.
- We have multiple sites that are under one umbrella, but we have kids who are coached by different coaches. We kind of have seven different SwimAtlantas that are all trying to do well for us.
- Being in Atlanta. There are other clubs here that are very good. The competitiveness among the clubs here keeps everyone honest and working hard. You can’t let your guard down.
- A great summer league base. There are probably 35-40,000 summer league kids in this area, and we get a lot of them who want to swim year-round.