Commentary by Trina Sanyal, Swimming World Intern 2016 CeraVe Invitational
Jim Wood, although he is the former president of USA swimming, and president of United States Aquatic Sports, he sees himself as a coach first.
When speaking about his role as a coach of the Berkeley Aquatic Swim Team, his eyes light up with excitement. He says that he’s always been a volunteer whether it is on a local, state, or national level. He sees his role as president as more of a role of delegation and leadership.
Wood accredits most of the success of meets to the volunteers and the staff members. As humble as Mr. Wood is, it is clear that other volunteers, and swimmer alike, respect him and understand his importance as both a coach and as a president.
He expects his coaches to be equally involved in volunteering and understanding the rules and regulations behind each swim meet, and takes a great amount of care in making sure that each position he appoints (or has appointed in the past when he was the president of USA swimming), is right for the job.
In 2006 when Jim Wood won the USA swimming presidential election, he became the first coach to become president. It is evident even when speaking to him, that coaching is where his true passion lies.
When asked about his opinion of the parent volunteers, he immediately spoke of their immense dedication to their kids and the teams. Speaking of them, words like “unselfish” came easily to Mr. Wood, as he said with ease that they are “probably one of the best parent organizations in the country, if not the best.”
Mr. Wood was also not shy in mentioning how great the competitors themselves are. With a hearty chuckle, he explained that each swimmer is not only an incredible athlete, but is also highly “intelligent, driven and a pleasure to work with”.
Towards the end of my conversation with Mr. Wood, he mentioned that “USA swimming has been the number one swimming organization in the world since 1956”, and “has the most Olympic medalists”. He immediately smiled at the sound of the organization’s impressive records, and it is evident that Mr. Wood could not be happier to be doing what he loves every single day.