Club Excellence Spotlight: Clearwater Aquatic Team
By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
One of the premier swim clubs in Florida that has produced multiple senior nationals qualifiers, Olympic Trials finalists and current US National Team member Becca Mann, Clearwater Aquatic Team has achieved gold medal status in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program with a 20th-place showing in 2013.
Led by head coach Randy Reese, who has accumulated over 45 years of coaching experience, Clearwater has produced a number of elite swimmers and built a tradition of excellence that has passed through generations of swimmers.
CAT is currently hosting the NASA Junior National Championship Cup, which features a number of top 18-and-under swimmers from around the country, including National Age Group record-holder Michael Andrew.
“Hosting this meet plays an important part in bringing good swimmers from around the country to Clearwater for our kids to compete against,” said Ken Duncan, the head coach of the Hunter’s Green branch of CAT.
Thanks to a dedicated group of parents and swimmers, achieving gold medal status has almost become an expectation, Duncan said.
“No one aspect has gotten us to gold medal status – its everyone working together, and a great group of parents who are committed to excellence,” he said. “For a while, achieving gold medal status was a focus. Now, it’s self-perpetuating. Now that we have it, no one wants to lose it.”
Duncan discusses the keys to CAT’s success in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight:
1. The volunteerism of all of the parents. Their time and efforts make the dry side of our program successful. They do everything. They run the meets, the concession stand, etc. We couldn’t do it without them.
2. It helps to have a coach like Randy Reese on deck. He supplies the leadership and knows what it takes to get swimmers to the gold and silver times, and can motivate them to get to practice and work hard.
3. We have a great indoor facility in Clearwater and a great relationship with the parks and rec department, and they allow us to make things happen with meets and training and when the weather gets bad. We have a lot of bad weather between now and the beginning of the summer, and a lot of club teams miss a significant amount of practice because of that. We’re fortunate to be able to use the indoor pool here.
4. Amongst our swimmers, we have a healthy respect for competition, and competition amongst each other in practices. They’re supportive of each other, and it’s a healthy competition. The older kids mentor the younger kids, so the learning takes place when the older kids pass down what they’ve learned to the younger kids.
5. We stay up-to-date on training innovations. We’re always trying to incorporate new training ideas and methods into our practices. Constantly changing and incorporating new methods keeps the kids interested.