PHOENIX, Arizona, January 5. TODD Brunty recently was named the NFHS Coach of the Year, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, he talks about the philosophy that helped him gain this honor.
Brunty also discusses the impact of having an accomplished age group team in the area to help foster his swimmers on a year-round basis, which swimmers have helped Saline High School win multiple state titles and what the award means to him as a coach. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
Special Thanks to Finis for sponsoring the Morning Swim Show's interview segments in the Finis Monitor.
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Editor's note: We mistakenly named the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association as the organization that honored Todd Brunty as national coach of the year. The National Federation of High Schools was the actual organization that gave the award.
Peter Busch: This is The Morning Swim Show for Wednesday, January 11th 2012. I'm your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS monitor today we'll talk to Todd Brunty. He's the head swim coach at Saline High School in Michigan. He was just named Coach of the Year by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. Todd joins us right now in the FINIS monitor from Saline, Michigan. Coach, welcome to The Morning Swim Show. How are you?
Todd Brunty: Doing great, thank you.
Peter Busch: Saline, right outside of Ann Arbor, right?
Todd Brunty: Yes sir.
Peter Busch: So how long have you been a coach there?
Todd Brunty: This will be my sixth full season.
Peter Busch: Sixth full season.
Todd Brunty: Yes.
Peter Busch: Well you've won a lot more than you've lost I've noticed.
Todd Brunty: Yes.
Peter Busch: Guys are going for three straight state championships.
Todd Brunty: Yes.
Peter Busch: And girls like three out of four.T
odd Brunty: We won two in a row, then this year we finished runner-up.
Peter Busch: So are you just the best coach in the world or you've got a great area for talent or kind of a combination?
Todd Brunty: I'm the benefactor of a lot of things. We have a lot of talent, we have a great community here, proximity to Ann Arbor helps quite a bit, we're real close to the University of Michigan and Club Wolverine which is an excellent age group program so there are a lot of benefits of being the coach here at Saline.
Peter Busch: Do a lot of your swimmers train year round at Club Wolverine?
Todd Brunty: Yes they do. We have a good number of young men and women that train year round at CW as well as the local clubs in the area so that's a big key to our success.
Peter Busch: How did you get in to coaching and how did you eventually wind up as a high school coach?
Todd Brunty: Coaching, I got into it finding jobs in the summer while I was swimming in college, a couple of clubs in the area, started off that way, enjoyed working with young men and women, coaching. Decided to go into Education partly so I could coach, started to become a high school coach early on at Taylor High School in the area in Michigan, then moved from there to Dexter High School where I was a coach there for about six years. I got a teaching job in Saline and started here when the job opened up and I've been doing it ever since and loving every minute of it.
Peter Busch: You're still teaching?
Todd Brunty: Yes sir, for sixth grade.
Peter Busch: Sixth grade – what is that like?
Todd Brunty: It's like being a 12-year-old every day but in charge of them. It's a lot of fun, keeps me young, keeps me excited, really good working with young men and women outside the pool so I get the benefits of that, too.
Peter Busch: What's your coaching philosophy? How would you describe it?
Todd Brunty: I believe in hard work – that's number one – working hard. I don't think there's any other way around it. We try and push our young men and women here to work real hard and to understand that to reach their goals there's got to be some hard work involved in it. Another one would be I'm a big believer in team. I see young men and women do a great job when they're part of a team and they're dedicated to the team, putting those individual goals aside a little bit, and then they come right back when they're truly with the team goals, they tend to reach them and surpass them when the team goal's kept in mind and then those individual goals just kind of happen and come.
Peter Busch: Is that a challenge with a sport like swimming?
Todd Brunty: Oh absolutely, I mean you're in there day in, day out you've got to have some individual drive and then you've got to ask a young man or a woman who's gotten to a level, a pretty high successful level of having some internal individual drive to kind of put that on the back shelf and think about team first. It's a challenge for a lot of young men and women and it's a challenge as a coach to get them to understand that because once they get a taste of it, once they see the success that can come with it and that feeling of supporting your community and the people around them they really see the light and they come around to it and it's a great thing.
Peter Busch: The first thing you said was hard work. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean a lot of practices, a lot of yardage, intense practices?
Todd Brunty: A little bit of everything. It's a balanced approach. We do a lot of fast swimming here in practice. Some days it's not a lot of yardage but it is a lot of intensity; other days there's a lot of high yardage and we always ask them to do a pretty good intensity. We try and find balance in what we're doing when we're working hard. We also work pretty smart when we work hard – that's another part of what we do here.
Peter Busch: What do you get for being named NISCA's Coach of the Year?
Todd Brunty: I get to do this interview. It's some recognition that I don't usually get. I feel real proud of myself that way but I also think it's just another award for the young men and women around here because they're the ones that do the work for me, they're the ones that sacrifice just as much as I do and it's another award for them as well as for myself.
Peter Busch: Don't they give you a gift card at Swimming World's gift shop or anything like that?
Todd Brunty: They got me a plaque I think the other night, they got me one to stick up on the wall in the high school so that's pretty nice. That's really not why we all get into what we do, coaches and teachers, it's not for those plaques; it's for the benefit of the young men and women around us so that's good enough for me.
Peter Busch: Tell me about some of the kids on your team right now that we might start to hear about on a junior national level or even beyond.
Todd Brunty: We have three young men this year that went to Senior Nationals. David Boland is one of them. He's an IMer, butterflier coming along real well. He's doing a great job. He has some big aspirations. A young man, Adam Whitener, he's a 200freestyler, 100freestyle and he's starting to learn how to swim some strokes pretty good so you'll hear about him. Another one who's come a long way in the last couple of years, certainly last year, is Josh Ehrman. He's a breaststroke, IM. I'm trying to convince him to do 400IM or distance freestyle but he's still wanting to swim in the 50s and the 100s. All three of them are looking to try and get – they're real close to their Trial cut so after the high school season here they'll go down to their sectional meet and hopefully get those cuts and get some experience as high school juniors at the Trials, so those are the big three we have right now.
Peter Busch: Now these guys are 15, 16, 17 right now. They were around when Michael Phelps was training with Club Wolverine. They were old enough to see the superstar real close. Did that have any long term effect on them?
Todd Brunty: I think they picked up on him being in the area. What they saw was someone who had reached the top of the swimming world around them, someone who got the recognition and stuff and the fame that you see a lot of basketball, football players and other people you see on television every day and then I think it came along and was close enough for them to see and feel the effects of it and then get motivated, have the desire and that type of stuff to possibly realize that that could be them, they could be the people, young men that could reach that level themselves. I think it inspired a lot of young people around the area even though he's gone back to Baltimore now I think this is the effect of that coming through in this area sort of for sure.
Peter Busch: And you're reaping the benefits.
Todd Brunty: Absolutely, there's no problem with that.
Peter Busch: Well congratulations on the great success and the award. Good luck this high school season, coach.
Todd Brunty: I appreciate it, thank you, have a good day.
Peter Busch: You too. That's Todd Brunty joining us in the FINIS monitor from outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. And that is it for today's show, I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.
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