Las Vegas Swim Club: A Splash In the Right Direction

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

By Kelsey Mitchell, Swimming World College Intern.

For over 10 years, the Las Vegas Swim Club has been training age group competitors in Las Vegas, Nev. The recent years have seen the Las Vegas Swim club became more than just another swim team; it has become a place where learning is encouraged and developed, fostering lasting friendships and providing a second home for the athletes in the program.

Growing Pains

However, the Las Vegas Swim Club hasn’t always been the thriving program it is today. In 2009, the team was relocated from its home pool due to construction. Shortly after, the number of athletes sharply declined, and the team entered a time of turmoil. In the years to come, the coaching staff had a high turnover rate in a short time span; the lack of consistency caused the number of swimmers to drop even lower with less than eight kids attending practices at times.

In 2011, with the reopening of the Las Vegas Swim Club’s home pool, the number of athletes began to rise. The structure of the team was reorganized, a parent-run board of directors was put into place, and a dedicated coaching staff was appointed. Though it took time for the culture of the team to change, the recent consistency and quality of the team has allowed it to grow to over 200 swimmers.

Las-Vegas-Swim-Club-Fog

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

Rebuilding a Team Culture

Head Coach Pete Mavro speaks to rebuilding team culture to be proud of:

LVSC is a team that previously had a retention rate of 50 percent (meaning swimmers who return from one year to the next). The National average is around 70 percent. Before 2014, the program was not getting swimmers excited to be part of the sport or team. With the exceptional and passionate coaches we have now, the amazing board of directors working really hard, and all of the parents getting on board with shifting the culture of the program, the swimmers are getting the quality they deserve. We are averaging over 80 percent retention for the last several years. The biggest shift we have made is building an environment that athletes are excited to be a part of. They are working harder than ever, motivating each other and taking a lot of pride in being part of LVSC.

Getting the team to such a high point after its low proves the hard work and dedication the coaches, directors and parents put into the Las Vegas Swim Club. By teaching their athletes character qualities such as respect, dedication and discipline – along with encouraging close friendships and a family-like feel – the Las Vegas Swim Club has indeed succeeded in creating a team its athletes are proud to be a part of.

Las-Vegas-Swim-Club-Central-JOs

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

Assistant Head Coach Amber Stewart incorporates life skills into her workouts, aiming to prepare young athletes for their lives outside of the water. “For me, it is important that swimmers recognize swimming goes beyond the pool. The discipline required to be successful will serve swimmers well all of their lives,” says Stewart.

Building a Strong Family

The Las Vegas Swim Club also gave athletes a lecture on empathy over the past summer. The athletes were able to incorporate the skill into their everyday lives and relate it to their bonds with their teammates and the sport.

The coaches, parents and board members work hard to keep the team feeling tight knit and close despite the rising number of athletes. Through group outings, team-wide events, participation in relays and ample fundraising opportunities, athletes are able to bond with their teammates and coaches. Stewart says, “Being a smaller team definitely aids in the family-like atmosphere, but we also always strive to have an ‘open-door’ policy where swimmers know they can always approach us as coaches to discuss any concerns they might have.”

Las-Vegas-Swim-Club-Junior-Olympics-2018

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

Mavro credits the team’s parent board for the family-feel:

I have to credit the board again for being so proactive in staying focused on the environment of the team. The board, coaches and I talk regularly about things we can do to continue to foster the small family environment that we all appreciate, even as the team has grown to over 200 swimmers. Each group has a group parent in charge of putting together a social activity for their group about every other month. We frequently organize team-wide activities (team picnic, bowling night, restaurant nights).

Despite the team’s skyrocketing success, Mavro plans to keep the team’s numbers around 200, allowing him and the coaching staff to know all of the athletes and their families personally. He says, “We want LVSC to remain around 200 members. I find beyond that, it is really tricky to maintain the family feel that is so important to us.”

Keeping the Las Vegas Swim Club’s numbers stable is not a weakness. In fact, it is one of the team’s many strengths. It allows for young swimmers to progress through the program at their own pace, growing and developing skills they will use both in and out of the swimming community.

Las-Vegas-Swim-Club-Breast

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

Coach Mavro explains the perks of having a cap on the number of their current team structure:

For the last two years, we have reached a point of stability in our structure, which is exciting in a completely different way because you get to watch swimmers progress and thrive through the program. The Silver Group has been our top group for younger swimmers since 2014, and the first former Silver Group swimmers are starting out with our National Group this year. We are very excited to see swimmers who have come through the current structure of the program achieve great things on the local, regional and national level. I want to prove that you can have swimmers swim incredibly fast times in a program that focuses on the process and the enjoyment of the sport while building great people.

The Future of the Team

So far, the program has proved faithful. Over the past few years, the team has moved from around 1,400th place to about 350th on USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championships, a program designed to view the nation’s club team rankings. Mavro aims to continue the trend: “My vision is to continue with the current structure but work hard to improve the quality within each group. Each level will continue to push forward, which means the quality required to make the team at tryouts will move forward a little bit every season.”

Las-Vegas-Swim-Club-Nevada-State

Photo Courtesy: Carmine DiFulvio

With the once-small team now making finals appearances in larger meets on the local and regional scale, there is no doubt that the Las Vegas Swim Club only has good things to come in their future. As Mavro says, “Never be satisfied that you have done good things. Be happy, and then push for more.”

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

4 Comments

4 comments

  1. avatar
    Upset Father of 2

    I’m surprised that swimming world allowed this to be published with out doing some fact checking. This club is not the only club southern Nevada that has over come obstacles. The one major problem is this story is bias and ignores the fact that the improvements of athletes that have left this program are much steeper then the athletes being sold used cars so they stay with the program. It’s one thing to convince athletes to stay with your program but it athletes can progress better by having better opportunities elsewhere you shouldn’t hold the back with promises, down playing their potential and your egos over keeping kids and families from leaving. Your risking the potential of these kids comparative rate of improvement of LVSC athletes is subpar to the swimming world.

  2. avatar
    Jessica

    I think this article is okay to just focus on one club. Another article could be about all of the clubs in Las Vegas.
    Can you be more clear? Is used car a metaphor?

  3. avatar
    Swimmingworldfan135

    Someone is having a bad day….upset Father of 2 😂

  4. avatar
    Rachel D

    Congratulations LVSC and Coach Pete!! What a great profile for this team rewarding the hardwork the coaches, board and kids have put in!! The numbers speak for themselves in terms of participation, enrollment, retention and success. Measures of improvement have continued to stay high even as the kids come back with more experience every year.

    Unfortunately in the matter of Upset Dad, no matter how great a program and how much they care about the kids, there will always be people who come through that feel slighted for one reason or another and can’t get past it. There are other great programs you may be a better fit with and we wish you well. There’s no reason to bring the negativity around as all the swim teams in Vegas are generally supportive and respectful of one another.

Author: Kelsey Mitchell

avatar
Las Vegas native Kelsey Mitchell is a rising junior and swimmer at Lake Forest College. She primarily swims mid-distance freestyle and is majoring in English.

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