Q&A Catching Up With Tim Welsh

Tim Welsh
Tim Welsh Photo Courtesy: Walt Middleton

By Katie Lafferty, Swimming World College Intern.

Tim Welsh is a name that many people in the swimming community have heard of. With over 36 years of coaching experience, Welsh has more knowledge of the sport than many could even wish to have.

Throughout his 20 years at the University of Denis Starke, Welsh accumulated the most winning record, surpassing the late Dennis Starke. Prior to his arrival at the University of Notre Dame, Welsh spent eight years at Johns Hopkins University as the head men’s and women’s coach. At Johns Hopkins, he led the men’s team to two NCAA Division III national championships.

Although Welsh is retired, you may still find him around the pool deck at the University of Notre Dame coaching with the club team, Irish Aquatics.

Swimming World: What keeps drawing you back to the pool deck after so many years of coaching?

Tim: *laughs* “You know, it gets into your blood. You know and  I miss the pool and I miss the swimmers and I miss being on the deck and I just love being here. And I want to be here for as long as I can.”


Photo Courtesy: Michael & Susan Bennett


SW: Many people say that the atmosphere at the University of Notre Dame is unlike any other place. How would you describe the atmosphere around campus?

Tim: “It is special. It is special. This is a very special place. And I think it’s special, um, because it tries to do everything in a very holistic oriented way. So it matters that you grow as a human being here, it matters that you have a spiritual life here, it matters that you care about people here, it matters that you work in the community here, it matters that you do a good job in school. Everything matters. And I think that’s what makes it special. The most important thing that makes it special is the students. The students are just wonderful. Lou Holtz used to tell us, you know memorable Lou, he used to say ‘if you know what Notre Dame is about, no explanation is needed. If you don’t know what Notre Dame is about, no explanation will do.’ But really it’s everything. But it’s the people more than anything else.”

SW: Before heading to South Bend, you spent time at Johns Hopkins University. How is coaching at the Division III level different from the Division I level?

Tim: “That’s a good question, and the answer from my experience is there’s not a lot. There’s no difference in how much people care about their sport, there’s no difference in how much people want to improve, there’s no difference in their love for the game. What differs in the division one level is that they have more experience. They swim more days of the year, their faster. As far as working with someone who wants to get better, it’s the same. Johns Hopkins students were very smart and Notre Dame students are very smart.” *laughs* “They taught both me early on not to even consider being as smart as they are.”


Photo Courtesy: Ide Takahisa

SW: You now spend several evenings a week helping to coach club swimmers with Irish Aquatics. What made you decide to go back to coaching, especially coaching younger kids?

Tim: “Oh I asked for this group because I wanted too, Matt [Dorsch] was nice enough to let me work here. But I think I wanted to work with the swimmers who were still learning the skills that were going to carry them on through their senior years of coaching. I wanted to kind of help them get a good basis on technique and fundamentals. As everybody knows, unlearning a skill as an older swimmer is very hard to do. I wanted to see if I could contribute while they were learning the skills that they needed.”

SW: Throughout your coaching career you have achieved incredible success. Besides the records and accolades, what has been your favorite part of coaching?

Tim:  “Everything for me is about being on the deck with the swimmers. That’s why I got into it. That’s why I stayed with it. I tried to leave it several times to be an academic person, but I couldn’t do it. The pool kept calling me back. So, being with the swimmers on the deck, that’s what it is all about for me. When you see somebody improve, that’s a joy. Specific moments; my last dual meet here was incredible. Stupid me thought it would be a dual me. I always wanted to have tuba solo national anthem, we had a tuba solo national anthem from the three meter platform. And the tuba player was a former swimmer and was apart of the band so he got it. It was just a special moment. In between events there were former swimmers on the video board, it was just absolutely a spectacular day.”

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

1 comment