Editor’s note: Every Friday, USASwimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know,” featuring some of the best age group and grassroots coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you Hawaii LSC 2012 Age Group Coach of the Year, Lisa Johnson.
Hawaiian native Lisa Johnson has coached swimming for 14 years and is the junior gold coach at Kamehameha Swim Club.
The club won its 20th straight Hawaii State Championship, including a National Age Group record set by the 15-16 year old boys in the 200y free relay. At the Northwest Region 2012 Sectional Age Group Championship, the Kamehameha Swim Club sent 18 swimmers and established eight Hawaiian records.
Johnson received her degree in fashion design from the University of Hawaii, and earned her first Age Group Coach of the Year Award. Learn more about Johnson.
How have you been utilizing your degree in fashion design?
I love to sew; I love to craft. So for my kids who swam in my group, I make patches and rewards. I make towels. In its own way, it’s been good. I’m lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. I love to make things and give it to them as a reward.
When and how did you get your first coaching gig?
I swam competitively (for a few years) in high school. I was born in the 60s, so this was in the 70s. I did not swim in college. My brother (who is 5 years older) was my high school coach.
Then he just needed a female coach, and I said sure I’ll help you, and that was the start of my coaching. I had children, and once my children started with our local club, I would just substitute whenever any of the coaches were on vacation or sick. I would just volunteer. And through that, they asked if I wanted to come in and coach.
Why did you quit swimming competitively in the middle of high school?
I stopped swimming because I fell in love with surfing. That was my love, instead of swimming. I just burned out. I just loved to surf. I just did high school swimming and surfed a lot. I still love swimming.
How did you pick up your coaching skills?
If I have any questions, I’ll ask our head coaches. It’s just been through trial and error. I still swim. Whenever I try to teach something to them, I get in the water, and I try to feel it myself. If I’m telling them to put their hand in and pull from here, get that catch, I got to know what it feels like. Even if I watch it on a video, I have to go in and feel it myself.
What was your favorite moment of the 2011-12 season?
For us being from this island, traveling to the west coast is huge for them. We went to the age Group Sectionals in Seattle, so to see them come back and be very happy with their performances was exciting. They enjoyed their trip, and their reward was going snowboarding near there. Other teams say no to that, but we let them go snowboarding. And then they come back in hopes that the other kids aspire to do what they’ve done.