3 Tips for the U.S. Paralympics Resident Swim Team On New Coach Jack Fabian

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Photo Courtesy: Randy Dunton

By Diana Pimer, Swimming World Staff Writer

If you’re a swimmer, a fan of swimming, a parent of a swimmer, or a swim coach, you have probably heard of the mystical, legendary, elite location known as the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You see Instagram posts of Olympians on training camps here, and you hear the name of this place in just about every mid-season swimming interview.

I cannot speak for the whole swimming community, but I do know that New England swimming is buzzing with the news of Keene State College head coach Jack Fabian resigning from his position at KSC and accepting a job at this world-class training sanctuary.

Elite level athletes come in to the Olympic Training Center (OTC), train, and leave, usually with a sense of relief. The level of altitude training and endless opportunities for training is a coach’s dream, and usually a swimmer’s nightmare. But there is a group of athletes who do not leave. Not only swimmers, athletes such as triathletes, pentahletes, and many more have resident teams that train together year-round at the OTC.

I do not know all of the resident teams at the OTC, but I do know one. U.S. Paralympics Swimming has a group of about 10 resident swimmers currently residing in the Springs. Another thing I know is who their new coach will be at the end of the month, well, because he is my coach.

He may be leaving, and even though I still refuse to accept it. I graduated in May, but this doesn’t mean he is no longer MY coach. I share the title of his swimmer with many, hundreds even. So I would like to offer the OTC resident Paralympic swimmers three pieces of advice on their new coach.

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Photo Courtesy: Eva Fabian

Some of you reading this may be thinking, who is this girl trying to give advice to such elite level athletes? I am not an Olympian, a Paralympian, an NCAA All-American, or even a relative of Fabian’s for that matter. However, his daughter Eva Fabian and I were born 12 hours apart, are best friends, are the same height and look freakishly similar. I can’t swim an open water 10k, but I can do a decent 200 breaststroke; same thing, right?

But if there is one person I know, it is Jack Fabian. Ask anyone. One of my favorite parts about being a leader on his team was when my teammates would come to me for advice and then say, “Thanks, but now tell me how Jack would respond, not how Diana would respond.” They could trust that I knew him inside and out.

This brings me to my first piece of advice:

1. Trust Him

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Photo Courtesy: Jack Fabian

One of Jack’s biggest concerns is being able to trust his athletes. He’ll tell you anything and you can tell him anything. If you let him, he really gets to know his swimmers. I am typically a cheery, smiley person. Everyone has their bad days, as did I. But sometimes, it’s easier to just hide feelings and pretend like nothing is wrong. To this day, Jack is the only person I know that can tell when I have a problem, no matter what my expression. Some days, I’ve walked onto the deck laughing, huge smile, and he’ll say, “Pimer, what’s wrong?” He just knows, and cares about turning situations around.

But mainly, I always knew that he was doing everything in his power to make me the best swimmer I could be. In return, I ensured that I never did anything to jeopardize this trust. Trust is the foundation of a solid coach-swimmer relationship with Jack Fabian. However, I’m sure none of you will struggle with this.

2. Challenge Him

Keene State 2014

If there’s one thing Jack Fabian loves, it’s a challenge (and his family and dogs but that’s irrelevant). Whether it be intellectually or physically, he will accept and conquer any challenge you give him. He will be the first to say he has never coached para-athletes before. But I’m not worried. His ability and dedication to researching new things is incredible. I guarantee that he will continue to learn and share his knowledge with you. If he doesn’t know something, he will look it up. And not just in one place, either. He’ll probably have ten sources, three personal references, and have tried it out himself a couple times.

Speaking of trying things himself, any workout you do, he will be willing to try. Although I’ve never seen him do our New Year’s 400 IM set, “Larsen Jensen,” or “Janet Evans,” I have seen him do a LOT of workouts. Usually, I try them on my own when he’s not around and just ponder HOW. Seeing your coach try his best to be healthy, fit and successful is inspiring. I hope you all get as much out of this as I did, and one day, maybe the Keene State swim team will be doing a set named after one of you.

3. Inspire Him

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I know for a fact that this will not be difficult for any of you. I am hoping, however, that he inspires you like he has, me. He loves quotes and philosophies, and I usually tell him a quote in the moments I can tell he needs one. Last week, I sent him a quote I recently learned while writing a Swimming World story about Para-swimmer Yelyzaveta Mereshko (it’s funny how life connects itself). She mentioned her favorite quote, “A solider that doesn’t want to be a general is a bad solider.”

This quote embodies Jack Fabian like no other. Day in and day out he betters himself for the success of his swimmers. As much heartbreak, sadness and shock as there may currently be among the KSC swim team, I am pretty sure we can all agree that Jack deserves this opportunity. He has bettered himself so much, that he has gained national recognition. He may not be the general just yet, but he is one heck of a solider.

I’m not sure if anyone really needed this advice as much as I did. Perhaps “helping” you out was just a way of me coming to terms with losing my coach, my mentor, my “second dad,” and now, my good friend. But as I said before, it’s not really a loss, because he will always be there.

Both at Keene State and Colorado Springs, there are sets to be completed, titles to be defended, lesson to be learned, and certainly memories to be made and remembered. So ultimately, to Jack: thank you. And to the U.S. Paralympics Resident Swim Team: welcome to the family.

3 comments

  1. Maria Mozzillo Pimer

    Congrats again Jack Fabian. I know you will accomplish more great things in Colorado!

  2. Joanne Newton

    Congrats, Coach Fabian! What an amazing opportunity ahead!

  3. avatar

    Congratulations Jack Fabian!