PHOENIX, Arizona, October 20. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show Ed Aston looks back on a prosperous career at Cheshire High School that included a record for the most dual meet wins.
Aston's memories of coaching at the Connecticut school go beyond the streak, and he talks about getting girls to participate on his team, how the team stays motivated each season and what advice he has for new coaches. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Show Transcript: (Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)
Peter Busch: This is Morning Swim Show for Thursday, October 20th, 2011. I'm your host, Peter Busch. In the FINIS Monitor today, we'll talk to Coach Ed Aston. To say he wins more than he loses is quite an understatement. He guided the ladies at Cheshire High School in Connecticut to the longest dual meet win streak in high school swimming, and he is getting ready to retire here in a few weeks. So Coach Aston joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Cheshire, Connecticut. Coach, welcome to the show. How are you?
Coach Ed Aston: Well, Peter, nice being here. Thank you very much. It's great. Everything is going well.
Peter Busch: It's great to have you on after, what was it, 281 consecutive victories?
Coach Ed Aston: Yes, that's the correct number.
Peter Busch: And I understand it just came to an end.
Coach Ed Aston: You had to bring that up [laughs]. Yes, it did. Yes, it just ended about a week and a half ago.
Peter Busch: Any coach knows that you'll learn more from your losses than you do from your wins, so – [laughs]
Coach Ed Aston: Well, we'll see how much we learn from this. I don't know. I'd rather it's the other way, but it was a great experience going through all of this.
Peter Busch: Well, it really is tremendous. Congratulations. That is quite the achievement. And it says that you didn't just have great swimmers along the way because everybody has a star swimmer now and again, but to keep that consistency year after year after year, you must have had quite some depth.
Coach Ed Aston: Well, that has been really the motto of our team, is to develop as much depth as we can. Our numbers ranged from 40 to 50 girls on the team, and we don't cut anybody and we think that they are going to develop into swimmers and we've been successful doing that.
Peter Busch: So anyone who wants to be on the team can join?
Coach Ed Aston: Yes, yes.
Peter Busch: Do you have girls just lining up with all the success that you've had to want to be a part of this?
Coach Ed Aston: Usually, you know the kids that are going to come out. But through the years, we've always have taken in a girl that never had any previous experience and wanted to be a part of that and then four years later ended up doing very well.
Peter Busch: And I know you've sent a lot of swimmers on to the next level, collegiate swimming, and there is something you're very proud of, is all the team captains at the collegiate level that you produced.
Coach Ed Aston: Well, I think at last count, we were about 125 of my former swimmers went on to be college swim captains.
Peter Busch: Just incredible. And you've coached the guys and the girls most of the time. I know a few years ago you stopped coaching the guys, but for many decades, you were both.
Coach Ed Aston: I did both of them for 33 years and retired from the boys in 2005. And now I'm going to do the girls, retire from them.
Peter Busch: How did you get into coaching?
Coach Ed Aston: My college coach actually got me involved. He saw something in me that he thought I'd be a decent coach and he asked me to fill a vacancy in a program where his two kids were swimming, and so he got me started in it back in 1969-1970.
Peter Busch: Did you do some teaching along the way? I know sometimes when [cross-talking] –
Coach Ed Aston: I was an elementary school math teacher for six years, and then the rest of my career, I was a high school guidance counselor.
Peter Busch: Oh wow. So you've just worked around kids your entire life.
Coach Ed Aston: Entire life.
Peter Busch: It takes a special kind of person to know how to bring the best potential out of kids like that.
Coach Ed Aston: Well, I think as a teacher, that's what you train for, and certainly, coaching is an extension of the classroom. And so it became a second calling. I mean it was just you transfer one to the other.
Peter Busch: Are you excited, sad going into these final few weeks of your coaching career?
Coach Ed Aston: I don't know if you could use either one of them. It's just — it's business as usual right now and we want to continue doing what we have been doing and I don't want to really call any attention to it. It's been nice a couple of the teams that we had swum kind of made a big deal of it after their meets and I enjoyed having that. But I'll probably, as it gets closer to the end, become a little more emotional about the whole thing.
Peter Busch: Any chance you'd ride off into the sunset with a state championship?
Coach Ed Aston: Well, we would like to. I hope so.P
eter Busch: I know you've had plenty of those along the way too.
Coach Ed Aston: Yes, yes. We have been very successful in Connecticut with the 26 state championships and 13 state opens in this 37-year span.
Peter Busch: Tell us what your big plans for retirement are.
Coach Ed Aston: I'm living in Jupiter, Florida, and we have actually been there the last two years. I have come back to coach for these past two seasons. But we'll go back there. We have a place in, as I said, in Jupiter, and we've been very happy there and very busy, taking up some golf and tennis and a lot of other things that I didn't have time for before.
Peter Busch: Do you ever swim yourself?
Coach Ed Aston: Oh yes, yes, when the time calls, if I do have time.
Peter Busch: Well, looking back on it, 40 years of coaching, I'm sure you have some incredible memories. If they had to get up there and have you share one or two, what comes to mind?
Coach Ed Aston: I think the biggest thing was the night that we broke the national record and the number of alumni that came back for that meet and the type of coverage we got around here, that was probably the most memorable event during this time.
Peter Busch: How did you keep the girls hungry all that time? Because as I mentioned earlier in the interview, sometimes coaches say you learn from losses and you get more motivation. But how did you keep them so intense in competition?
Coach Ed Aston: Well, I think I had a lot of help from the girls themselves as the streak took on a thing of its own and no team wanted to lose it and under their watch and they sort of passed down that traditional type of thing to each group and told them the importance of it to them, and they, in turn, took on that persona also, and it was really good. You want to motivate them as best as you can and one of the way was if somebody is a threat to do it, you kind of talk up about that and that sort of motivated them even more.
Peter Busch: Parting words for any young coaches who might be watching this show, especially high school coaches who could learn something from legend like yourself?
Coach Ed Aston: Work hard at it. If you're not going to work hard at it, don't do it. Take no shortcuts and run your own program. Do your own thing.
Peter Busch: Coach, our most sincere congratulations on an incredible run. And thank you very much for joining us. Enjoy your retirement.
Coach Ed Aston: Thanks, Peter.
Peter Busch: All right, that's Coach Ed Aston joining us from Cheshire, Connecticut. 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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