Athlete-Centered Philosophy Propels SwimMac to Fourth Consecutive Club Excellence Gold


Micah Lawrence competing at Winter Nationals in 2014. (Large)By Emily Sampl//Contributor

With a dozen athletes – Cammile Adams, Kathleen Baker, Madison Kennedy, Micah Lawrence, Katie Meili, Kate Mills, Michael Chadwick, Tyler Clary, Cullen Jones, Ryan Lochte, Tim Phillips and Nick Thoman – on USA Swimming’s 2015-2016 U.S. National Team roster, it should come as no surprise that SwimMAC Carolina has once again earned a spot among USA Swimming’s top clubs, placing second in the 2016 Club Excellence program rankings. 


In addition to their second place ranking, SwimMAC Carolina has also been designated a Podium Club for 2016 by virtue of it being the team’s fourth consecutive year as a gold medal club. The team recently wrapped up the women’s and combined team titles at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships in December to cap another outstanding meet from the team’s 18-and-under swimmers.

Competitive Program Director Terry Fritch credits the team’s focused development track and training plan with producing some of the top swimmers in the world. Fritch elaborates on that and more in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.

1. We believe in a program that puts each athlete on track to have a successful career, no matter the duration.
We have a progression and entry point throughout a swimmer’s career that no matter what age they start, the fundamentals are taught and the progression is such that the athlete does not miss certain skills or foundations to make them successful. For long-term athletes, we have a progression that provides stepping-stones along the way, and we don’t skip steps due to ability or best times.

2. We believe in staff collaboration so that all areas and ages of our program can improve. We strive for a culture of collaboration. As a program, we set certain expectations and standards for the staff to follow as well as creating a culture of coaches on their own working with each other. We also let athletes know that at any time any SwimMAC coach can stop them at practice or at a meet and give them tips/instructions, and they need to respect those thoughts. We do our best to hire professional level coaches with a variety of knowledge that will have a personality of sharing at all age groups. 

3. We believe in a training plan from age group to senior that is IM-based, psychologically optimistic, technically driven and physically challenging. We have an intentional curriculum that sets boundaries for coaches, athletes and parents. Within the boundaries the coaches get creative and add their special flavor.

4. We believe in a parent board and base of parent volunteers that are moral owners and support the program in the needed avenues that allow all swimmers to be successful. Additionally, a few years back we developed a position called Competitive Team Manager. Sarah Holman has taken on that role and has provided great leadership in planning our meet, clinic and camp schedule out a season ahead so we always know our “bulls-eye” and make sure every level of our program gets good opportunities to compete.

5.  We believe in succeeding at the highest levels of our sport and continuing to help the USA be the top of the world stage. We strive for a goal of creating a culture that supports excellence. Coach Marsh and Team Elite (our pro athletes) are a big part of that. They connect with our age group program in a variety of ways and promote excellence in swimming.