David Durden’s First U.S. Head Coaching Job Comes With Unique Challenges

David Durden
Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Coverage of the 2015 FINA World Championships is sponsored by Wylas Timing. Visit our coverage page for more.

Coverage of the World Championships is sponsored by Wylas Timing

David Durden is in charge of the men’s world championship squad competing in two weeks in Kazan, Russia. The 22 pool swimmers were picked last August at the USA Swimming nationals as well as the Pan Pacific championships, much earlier than usual. The decision to select the squad early has been met with praise and criticism, and Durden says his biggest challenge since getting the job last November has been to get the team motivated for eight days of racing in Russia.

“We normally go to these championships coming off a selection meet,” Durden said during a telephone conference call with reporters. “You qualify for the meet with a bit of a euphoric high and take that to the meet. We had that, but it was last year.”

Though the world championships marks Durden’s first time as head coach of an American international racing team, he’s had plenty of experience as assistant coach for Team USA. His previous work included the 2010 and 2014 Pan Pacific championships and the 2011 world championships. He got some previous head coaching experience guiding Panama’s team at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Olympics.

Wylas Timing

Photo Courtesy: Wylas Timing

Durden and his world championship coaching staff – which includes Rick DeMont, Whitney Hite and David Marsh – will officially get to work next week when the team meets for a weeklong training camp in Croatia. That’s where Durden will get his men’s team to find the motivation they had last year when they learned they made the team.

Because the squad was picked last year, the world championships will mark the first taper meet for the U.S. squad. Other countries held their selection meets this year, which meant the top rivals have put up some fast times already and experienced the mental thrill of posting a fast time before worlds.

“We’re going to have to create a bit of an atmosphere (in Croatia), a little bit of a psychological edge,” Durden said.

He’s happy to have plenty of international racing veterans on the team to help him create that environment. Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin, two athletes Durden trains in Berkeley, Calif., daily, are on the team. Ryan Lochte, Tyler Clary and Matt Grevers are three others who Durden knows will provide natural leadership to the newcomers to the biggest meet of 2015.

“They’re the ones that (have represented) the U.S. (before),” Durden said. “So, you lean on those guys that have the experience to pump up the younger guys.”

The American men face a lot of strong opposition, particularly in the sprint freestyle events. But Durden said he’s expecting Adrian and Jimmy Feigen, who will race the 100 free at worlds, to rise to the challenge. Durden believes it will take a swim faster than 48 seconds to win a medal at the world championships, and because the Americans haven’t had a taper meet in 2015, an air of uncertainty will follow the team when the meet starts August 2.

“We’re looking forward to Kazan to see those type of performances,” Durden said. “I think you’ll see that the best in American sprinting is directly in front of us.”