David Marsh & Team Elite Return to the Pool: ‘It Was Pretty Emotional Yesterday’

Team Elite pro swimmers returned to the pool. Photo Courtesy: @teameliteaquatics

Team Elite head coach David Marsh finally returned his swimmers to the pool this week as California Governor Gavin Newsom allowed pools to re-open in the state.

“Honestly it was pretty emotional yesterday when the Team Elite swimmers got back in the water,” David Marsh told Swimming World. “Probably the most profound thing was getting the group back together. We have been in backyard pools and various ocean training but never all together. We really have been missing that team community aspect and you sort of forget why a lot of people stick with swimming. To get that back just felt right and it didn’t hurt that it was a perfect day yesterday and the weather was perfect – it felt great to be in a beautiful outdoor pool.”

The coronavirus pandemic had kept the majority of the United States out of the water since mid-March. In the last few weeks, teams around the country were approved little by little to return to the pool subject to strict social distancing restrictions. Southern California teams added themselves to that list this week.

With the virus keeping people quarantined in their homes, Marsh’s professional swimmers had to get creative during the lockdown to stay in shape on land. Ocean surfing was an option with the team being close to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, and many were in touch with team trainer Javi Sossa, who was giving them workouts. Some were lucky to be able to swim in backyard pools across California to maintain their feel for the water, but there was nothing better than being back in a real pool with lane lines.

“They have come back and some really look good,” Marsh said with a laugh. “In some ways, they look better than they did pre-COVID.”

He brings up Jacob Pebley, who was sixth at last year’s World Championships in the 200 backstroke, who took up surfing for the first time in his life during the pandemic.

“I think it actually helped his freestyle stroke technique,” Marsh said. “He is pulling a little bit deeper now and I think he has found a very healthy and positive hobby in surfing so I am very excited for that for him.”

David Marsh is grateful to be coaching his swimmers at Team Elite again after a long time away from the pool, and the swimmers are excited to see their friends again.

“We had a team meeting at the end of practice and we were six feet apart so they were spread out a long way. I said, ‘if you can keep capturing the attitude you had in the 40 minutes sessions and bring that as we get to more and more time and get to a full schedule – if you bring any percentage of that to the new version of your swimming then I believe you can come out of COVID better than you were going into it.’

“I just think an eager and appreciative mentality is going to value every session and ideally every lap and every stroke – not that anyone is going to hit that perfection like that all the time, but if they do it more than they used to then we are going to have better swimmers.”

Marsh had been asking Governor Newsom to open up the pools for quite some time now. Not only did he want to get back on deck, but his swimmers were getting anxious they were missing out on valuable training time while their rivals around the world were getting back in and fully training. While the swimmers were in private pools during COVID, stroke technique and refinement took the priority. For now, training will primarily focus on the fundamentals: technique and kicking.

“When we start swimming full body, we are trying to swim properly with our new and best strokes that we started working on during COVID,” Marsh said. “Some swimmers actually gained a little strength during that time and I think some are figuring out how to apply some newfound strengths or body connectivity.”

David Marsh also developed a famous head of hair on social media during the COVID shutdown as he had not cut his hair since the quarantine started. Marsh said last month he wasn’t going to cut his hair until pools would open and now that they have, the question remains: what is the status of the anticipated haircut?

“About 50% have told me to keep it,” Marsh said with a laugh. “I’m not going to keep it but it is certainly a topic of conversation. It has been a fun little project but I have a particular guy that I like to go to at Supercuts but he is not back going yet so I may have to go to a real hair salon or a real barber at some point. I went surfing after morning practice so I didn’t find time to go get a haircut – I have my priorities too!”



  1. Julie Tellier

    Team community aspect ?? kids on a swim team are like family