By Ailish Dougherty, Swimming World College Intern.
Kerry Sherin Porter has been teaching and coaching swimming for over 30 years. Not only does she work with swimmers ranging from one year old to over 50, she even owns her own Youtube channel, on which she gives safety tips and technique tricks.
Her evolution as a coach over these past 30 years has been an astounding one; from teaching swim lessons and Mommy & Me classes, to coaching age-group swimmers, to leading a prestigious Masters’ program, to supporting and developing a Paralympics time trials finalist. Sherin Porter touches many lives through her work.
Swimming World: What is your favorite part about coaching Masters’ swimmers? How did you get involved with the program?
Sherin Porter: I morphed into a Masters’ coach because of my experience teaching adults to swim. Our practices are from 5:30-6:30 in the morning, so my swimmers are very grateful that I am on deck at such a god awful early morning hour ready with a workout for them. I set up multiple times for different lane abilities and they all work very hard to make their intervals within their lanes. They are mostly in their 40’s and 50’s but they want to swim like they’re teenagers – then they come back to me and tell me their shoulders are sore.
Swimming World: How is coaching Masters’ swimming different than coaching age-group swimmers?
Sherin Porter: Coaching my peers is more relaxed because everyone is swimming for fitness and for themselves. My job is to monitor practices to keep them in shape and injury free. My motto for Masters’ is that you’re not going to hurt yourselves at my practices because you’re swimming for life, not to make a cut or swim a lights-out personal best. The pressure is off. It’s more about the camaraderie.
Swimming World: Do you feel that there are benefits to continuing a swimming career past college, into Masters’?
Sherin Porter: Swimming provides us with life fitness. No matter what you do, I’ve found you need to come back to water to keep your body healthy and well. Water IS the fountain of youth.
Sherin Porter’s teaching career also opened a special opportunity for her to coach Amanda Sheward. What started out as simply lessons became something more when Coach Sherin realized Amanda’s talent and drive to succeed. Being a para-swimmer, Amanda works very hard to train and compete at such a high level.
Swimming World: What about the para-swimming community? What accomplishments are you most proud of for your Paralympic swimmers?
Sherin Porter: Paralympic swimming is another incredibly inspiring experience – I have to be innovative all the time. There are a thousand ways to build on technique and at one point something will click, but para-swimmers have to be creative with their abilities, and para-coaches understand that. I’m humbled being part of this awesome community.
My swimmer Amanda medaled in the 200 breaststroke at the Can Am Para-Swimming Championships in March of this year and went to Paralympics time trials last summer, finaling in all five of her events. They were all proud moments, but I am proud every time I see her in the water and see how she trains above the norm to reach her goals.
Swimming World: Why do you coach?
Sherin Porter: My teaching is a passion. I wouldn’t work the crazy hours I do if I didn’t love what I do. My goal in life is that everyone I touch or coach is safe in the water. Swimming goes far beyond just a sport – I did land sports all my life but the water keeps me healthy and in shape, and I want to give that gift to others. Swimmers are all-around athletes who have a special discipline that carries over into all aspects of life. I feel honored to serve my community in this way.
Over the years, Coach Kerry has developed her own swim school and worked at the Haverford YMCA in Havertown, but since 2003, her home base has been Friends’ Central Aquatics in Wynnewood, PA.
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