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Feature by intern Rachel Emodi
PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 13. ELITE Swim Club, one of the top swim clubs in New Jersey, started out 17 years ago with five coaches and no pool of its own. One of those coaches, the founder and head coach Bill Deatly, is to credit for a lot of Elite's success.
Deatly gleaned much of his coaching experience at Summit YMCA (N.J.), where he served as an assistant coach while working full time in New York City as an insurance company salesman. Prior to becoming a coach, he swam competitively since the age of seven at Summit, and matriculated to Lafayette University (N.J.) where he contributed to its collegiate swim team.
As a swimmer, Deatly says he was a freestyle distance swimmer, joking "I could swim slow for a long time."
When asked about any standout swimming experiences, Deatly talked about his senior year at Lafayette when his team beat Gettysburg, to whom they had lost for the past three years. He says "his team was not good, but he had a spectacular coach, [named] Bill Lawson." Deatly also made many lasting friends at Lafayette, including Mark Butler, a New Jersey swimming referee.
While working full time in NYC, Deatly realized that he wanted to pursue coaching as a career stating that "I liked my job but loved coaching." When a local competitor went out of business, the then 42-year-old Deatly quit his job and took the open pool time at Morristown Beard School for Elite.
Elite is a family-run operation with Deatly's younger sister Cindy Ross and his wife Brandy both working with the club. Cindy serves as the head stroke technician for the senior level training group, while his wife Brandy works with the beginner's group as well as with the senior level swimmers.
"[Brandy is] instrumental in interacting with the older swimmers and giving a personal touch," Deatly said. He also describes his wife of almost 25 years as "effervescent." Deatly credits Brandy with being the "parent most responsible for raising the children," Cory (21) and Tad (20).
When asked which coaches influenced him, Deatly explained that he stood on the shoulders of giants within the sport. Hank Buntin, who coached Deatly at Summit YMCA and now coaches for Berkeley Aquatic Club, is the first who comes to mind. The second is his college coach Lawson. Lawson's unique focus was more on the "total development of an individual than fast swimming," and Deatly emulates this, saying, "I hope that I am living up to that ideal every day."
"Dealing with very determined and focused teenagers [is my favorite part about coaching]," Deatly said. "I enjoy their enthusiasm and that they are willing to commit so much time and effort to improve themselves."
Elite's motto reflects this belief, as Deatly's hierarchy of values is producing "spectacular people" who are great academically, and are strong swimmers – in that order. Deatly's hope is that his swimmers are "learning focused hard work is the key to success."
Personally, Deatly considers "finding Brandy and marrying her, and being a part of my family" as his greatest achievements. In the swimming world, the "achievement I participated in was Chris Dart swimming at the Olympic Trials and dropping a second." Chris Dart is an Elite Swim Club alum, who now swims for Clemson University and holds six school records for the Tigers. In 2008, Dart earned the New Jersey State Swimmer of the Year, and is the most successful swimmer to ever come out of Elite Swim Club. Dart, who is a dual citizen in the United States and Great Britain, qualified for both nation's Olympic Trials.
Deatly is a hard working coach who has contributed substantially to not only New Jersey swimming but also around the world with Dart's British background lending itself to Elite. Deatly's dedication and enthusiasm are commendable, and he has undoubtedly touched the lives of many of his swimmers, who respect him greatly. He is a remarkable coach whose life, in and out of the pool, has been extremely successful.