Editor’s note: Every Friday, USASwimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know,” featuring some of the most recognized coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you the Indiana Senior and High School Coach of the Year Kevin Kinel.
For 33 years, Kevin Kinel has been the Duneland Swim Club senior coach and Chesterton High School swim coach in Chesterton, Ind.
The Duneland Swim Club saw huge success in 2012, earning Club Excellence Silver Medal status and winning the Indiana Short Course Senior State title. He guided one of his swimmers to the Olympic Trials and had two boys make it to the finals at the Indiana Junior Olympics. Those achievements earned Kinel his fourth Indiana Senior Coach of the Year award.
To top it off, Kinel’s high school boys swim team won its first state title since 2009 last month, and he was named the Indiana High School Coach of the Year.
Learn more about the Indiana native and his swimming background.
What sparked your desire to be a swim coach?
I was a swimmer in high school. I didn’t swim in college. I probably could have gone to a smaller school, but I decided to go to Indiana University. I first started in business and realized that wasn’t for me. I went back, and in the summer I started working with our club team (Duneland Swim Club) and realized that this might be a better direction for me. So I went back to IU, changed my major (to physical education) and started working and staying there through the summer and working with the Bloomington Swim Club. That’s how I really decided I wanted to teach and coach.
How did you first get into the sport?
My older brother swam and enjoyed it, so I decided to try it. I had some success in high school. Like I said, at Indiana University and from working for our club here – which was the Duneland Swim Club then, too, before I went back to school – really gave me the itch to work with kids and try to find out as much as I could about them.
You and Duneland Swim Club Head Coach Jim Voss have been coaching the club for more than 25 years. Describe your coaching philosophy.
Both of us sort of have a good understanding of what the kids need. We have kind of a mixed program. We have some who are distance-oriented and some who are sprint-oriented. We have a good mixture in our training. We give the kids a good base to move into the senior side and then into the college side. We have a lot of kids who go to the collegiate level and D1. I think our philosophy is trying to do the most for the individual kid as we can. We really preach grades too. We have a high GPA. But I think our philosophy is to work for the total individual. Sometimes there’s more to swimming than just swimming fast.
Who most influenced you as a high school swimmer and as a coach?
Early on, my high school coach Dick Small was a big influence on me because I realized early that it was important to be a good person as well as a good swimmer. That was important to him, and in turn, it was important to the team. Early on that was a big influence. Obviously when I went to IU, Doc Counsilman (IU professor and swim coach) was a huge influence and mentor to me. Then after that it has been certainly my father along the way. I have a lot of role models who influence my thinking.
What is your most memorable experience as a coach?
Club swimming, one of my best memories is my first Olympic trials. That was back in 2000 in Indianapolis. Our qualifier was Jenni Anderson. Since then, we have had a bunch of kids qualify, but she broke the ice for the rest of the club.
(For high school), it might be my first state championship. I had been coaching for about 10 years before I had a state champion. I had gotten close before that. That was a real milestone to get over – just the thrill of kind of getting it done. I think because we had been close a few times before that, I kind of felt like we got over the hump, so to speak. It’s like anything else: once you’ve broke through and done something, it’s easier for others to do it.