By Cassidy Lavigne, Swimming World College Intern
There are many different types of coaches who have distinct styles in how they train their athletes. Some push more than others and some hate losing, but all of them have a passion for swimming and seeing their swimmers improve. While at times I dreaded the workouts from practices, after each seemingly-impossible set, I reflected and have to thank my coaches for making me stronger. All of the coaches I had throughout the years have taught me, and continue to teach me, lessons both in the water and off the pool deck, and I am grateful to have had the opportunities to be coached by all of them.
Here are four types of coaches I’ve encountered in my years as a swimmer…
1. The One Who Yelled a Lot
On most days, her voice was gone from yelling at us from the previous practice. I’d return home exhausted with the echo of her voice, “GO FASTER!” or “MAKE THIS!” Not putting in full effort wasn’t an option. If you didn’t make the interval, that swim didn’t count towards the set. I learned to be pushed and how to fight against every inch of my body that was telling me to stop. I learned that I can go faster, that I can make just one more set. I learned not to ask “how many more?” and instead just put my head down and swim, reach your mental breaking point, and then swim more. After all, if you can make the first half of a set you can make the second, because it’s all mental.
2. The Speechwriter
“Get fired up!” He would say as he gave me a high-five before warming up. He gave me inspiration, and reminded me how hard I had worked. It was always a good reminder to have, especially before challenging races. After racing, he would debrief, comment on what had improved since the last meet, and where I could’ve “dug deeper.” This coach reminded me, and still continues to remind me to believe in myself and my efforts in practice. I still play back his speeches in my head from our dual meets in high school to now in college swimming at conferences.
3. The Mellow One
At first, I wasn’t sure if I should feel so calm at a meet. Head coach of Soka University of America, Adam Crossen, has taught me to not overthink and to not get too worked up before and after my races. I am in control of how I want my races to go and the effort I put into each set at practice to prepare for it. He will always tell us, “You trained for this,” and “Don’t overthink it.” This keeps meets fun, and while there are no big speeches, there is high expectation. My teammate and upcoming senior at SUA, Taylor Karnilaw, agrees with me– “He’ll train you and prepare you and give you the tools to succeed in your races, but he puts it on you to push yourself and put in the effort. You’re in control.”
4. The “Forever” Coach
The one who sparked my passion for swimming. He was there my first day back in the pool and coached my last race as an “age-group” swimmer. The one who has not only been a role model and coach when I’m in the water conditioning, but in all aspects of my life. The dare-devil who pushed me out of my comfort zone and into other events. He knew when I tried and when I could’ve tried harder. I wanted to work hard for this coach and apply all his critiques to improve my stroke. I still drop in on his practices when I’m home, and he’s the first one I will reach out to when I get a best time.