Understanding Swimming With USA Veteran Jack Roach – Ultimate Swimmer Podcast

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By Noah Yanchulis

Jack Roach is no doubt one of the greatest coaches of all-time in the sport of swimming and his trajectory to get to this point has been unique, crazy, inspiring, and unbelievable! We were so grateful to be able to talk with him and hear about his incredible life story and some of his biggest takeaways from a life well lived. Below are some of the top highlights from the man who was always striving to learn more, Jack Roach!

You can find the full episode of the Ultimate Swimmer Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts! 

  1. Early Years: Jack swam during his high school years and was excited about the idea of swimming in college, but after one semester at Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina it became clear that he would not be able to afford it so he decided to join the Marine Corps. Jack thought that if everything worked out perfectly he would be able to use the GI Bill to go back to college full-time.
  1. Joining the Marines: After joining the Marine Corps as a teenager in 1966, Jack was deployed to Vietnam and admits that it was a very humbling experience and something that Jack says he would not trade for anything. In Jack’s words, “From [Vietnam] forward, I felt like I was living on borrowed time…my appreciation for life became much greater.” Additionally, Vietnam caused Jack to become introspective and ask himself, “How can I honor the people I met during my time there by the way I live?”
  1. Appreciating Life: Jack urges his swimmers and others in his life that they must give thought to the people that have impacted them the most and make an effort to honor those people by actions and emotion.

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  1. Going Back to College: After finishing in the Marine Corps in 1968, Jack tried to return to Appalachian State, but there was a lot of unrest on college campuses in the United States due to the decisions surrounding the Vietnam Appalachian State didn’t work out so Jack to Florida near Florida Atlantic University to become a beach lifeguard in Ft. Lauderdale.
  1. Lifeguarding in South Florida: In the early 70’s Jack began lifeguarding all over South Florida and for much of that time period he was living out of his beloved VW van because he was trying to save money to buy a sailboat. His van began giving him issues so he started biking to the beaches where he lifeguarded until one morning when he collided with another biker on his way to work. This accident prompted Jack to find another way to get to work, which led him to jogging 20 miles (each way!) to the beach for his lifeguarding shifts. Jack opens up about those runs taking such a toll on his body and perhaps being the result of some underlying stress from his time in Vietnam.
  1. Sailing in the Caribbean: In 1972 Jack was finally able to pursue his dream of captaining his own sailboat and for four years (until sometime in 1976) Jack sailed the Caribbean relying on celestial navigation to direct him to his destination. Sailing was a unique challenge, but it made Jack realize that he wanted to do something where he could give back to others.
  1. Coaching Destinations: Jack has coached all over the world, but started his career at a club team in Florida before moving to Mission Bay where he was named head age group coach in 1984. After Mission Bay, Jack coached at the University of Texas where he remained for about 10 years. Jack’s biggest move was to Mexico in 2003 where he worked with Carlos Arena and Nelson Vargas (minister of sport in Mexico). While in Mexico Jack coached at the San Luis Potece – La Loma Altitude Training Camp and saw swimmers from all over the world that came through to train with him at altitude.
  1. Working with the US Junior National Team: In 2008, Jack was offered a job to become the Director of the US Junior National Team in Colorado Springs where he was assigned with looking at how to build a culture around the best young talent in the One of the most important things Jack learned while in Colorado was that he needed to, “help [the swimmers] understand that they have all the potential to reach all the insight they need to reach their goals.”
  1. Moving to VA and Tide Swimming: Most recently Jack has been working with a club team in Norfolk, Virginia called Tide Jack was assigned as the Director of Coach and Athlete Development and has developed one of the top club programs in the country.

To hear Jack’s entire journey to becoming an ultimate swimmer you can find the full episode of the Ultimate Swimmer Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or anywhere you listen! Hosted by 3x Olympic gold Medalist and captain of the 2000 USA Team, Josh Davis, Ultimate Swimmer is a holistic approach to the sport of swimming; building strong hearts, minds, and bodies. This podcast is geared primarily for those of us in the aquatic disciplines of age-group swimming, college swimming, para-swimming, open water swimming, and masters swimming but we welcome all who are interested in peak performance, pursuing excellence and swimming with purpose.

The Ultimate Swimmer Podcast includes interviews with the biggest names in the sport of swimming past and present and we can’t wait for you to join us on the journey to BECOMING an ULTIMATE SWIMMER!

Past Ultimate Swimmer Guests:

Missy Franklin
Nathan Adrian
Hali Flickinger
The Foster Siblings
Cody Miller
Jason Lezak
Cullen Jones
Dana Vollmer
Ella Eastin
Lily King
Caeleb Dressel
Rebecca Soni
Kim Vandenberg
Amanda Beard
Kelsi Dahlia
Rowdy Gaines, Matt Grevers, Allison Schmitt
Will Licon
Michael Andrew
Kristy Kowal
Eddie Reese
Anthony Ervin
Brendan Hansen
Lenny Krayzelburg
Bruno Fratus
Kyle Chalmers
Roque Santos
Elizabeth Beisel
Mary Wayte Bradburne
David Plummer
Gary Hall Jr.
Jill Sterkel

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