By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Thursday, March 7, 2019
Some of the top swimmers in American history – names like Aaron Piersol, Amanda Beard and Jason Lezak – have come out of the Irvine Novaquatics team in Irvine, Calif., and the team makes it a goal to continue that success each year as they work towards achieving top rankings at the Club Excellence level and the national level. Associate head coach Adam Crossen shares the secret to Irvine’s continued success in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
2019 Ranking: 4th
2018 Ranking: 6th
Number of kids on the team: around 850, depending on the season
Location: Irvine, Calif.
Notable alumni: U.S. Olympians Aaron Piersol, Amanda Beard, Jason Lezak, Gabe Woodward, John Mykkanen, Colleen Lanne, Staciana Stitts and Jessica Hardy
Current junior swimmers to watch: Ayla Spitz, Ella Ristic, Hannah Farrow, Sean Slusiewicz, Dominic Falcon, Ryan Abdollahi
Recent team accomplishments: Finished first in the combined team standings at the 2018 Speedo Winter Junior Championships West in December, while placing 5th overall in the women’s standings and third in the men’s
What enables your team to finish in the Club Excellence rankings so frequently?
We have been able to perform well in the Club Excellence rankings because each year we try to improve on our results as a club. We aren’t necessarily focused on winning meets and competitions, as much as on improving and creating programming and culture that promotes growth in the sport. We have had great success with swimmers improving from our age group program to our senior program, which helps maintain consistency in the rankings.
What are three things that set Irvine apart from other club teams in the country?
1. The leadership and consistency of our coaching staff sets us apart from other clubs. Most of our staff has been with us for at least five years, and our associate head coaches have over 15 years experience with the club. Having a historical understanding of your program combined with a knowledge of the past helps guide the future. We have many former swimmers interested in coaching that have come back to work with us as well – our coaching staff is generational. In addition, we meet weekly as a staff and discuss all areas of the program, which helps create consistency and unity among our sites.
2. We have a general manager with a seat on the board of directors that is responsible for the wet side of the program and the board is responsible for the dry side. The board allows the general manager, with the coaches’ guidance, to handle all aspects of the wet side and acquiesces to the general managers’ recommendations. In addition, our board and business manager handle the dry side of the sport, allowing our coaches to focus on coaching and improving our swimmers and program.
3. We have a symbiotic relationship with all of our facilities, even though we do not own the facilities. We provide extended programming for facilities that offers a benefit to not only us but also the facility. In addition, we offer all levels of programming at each site and can accommodate all families’ needs and abilities.