Four young swimmers from across the country shared with USA Swimming what their coaches mean to them as part of #CoachesAre month.
Riley N. Tapley – Boulder Swimming
My coach has made a huge difference in my life.
I swim for Boulder Swimming in Boulder, Colorado. My coach’s name is Nancy; she has always been there for me and she has helped me drop about 10 seconds or more in all of my events. She is very nice and caring, even if a practice is hard and I think she is trying to push me too hard I know that she is always just thinking of each one of my teammate’s individual futures. Nancy is the best coach I've ever had.
I'm currently 16 years old and have been swimming for 10 years. I have been with the same coach for eight years of my career. I know every swimmer has had a point in their career that was hard with their coaches and the sport; yes I even have had that point. And although I tell everyone I dislike the sport, the truth is that in the inside, swimming is my whole life. Without my coach, during all these years, I honestly would have quit swimming. He keeps me motivated every day and helps me to get stronger and faster. He keeps me grounded so that in my future I can achieve not only my swim goals but goals in my life.
Katie Cronin (Age 13) – Gator Swim Club, Gainesville, Fla.
My coach, Coach Jackson, is definitely great; a hero even, if you want to call it that. Not only has he helped me be a better swimmer but he has helped me to be the person I am today. He's helped me achieve numerous LSC records, high point awards at championship meets and the 2013 Zone Meet and setting a national record last year in the 200 11&12 free relay.
Swimming builds character—it’s something I've seen over the years. I've grown to be a leader on my team. I'm that person who tries to tell the little kids "good job!" after their 50 fly because my coach educated us with the "stay positive" aspects. He's the coach that will say, "it's going to hurt, it's going to feel like you have nothing left, but if you're willing to keep going NOW, that last 25 of your 100 free is going to hurt a little less. It's better to hurt now than in July! Now get up and GO!" He's the coach that makes you forget about self-pity, forget about the pain and keep going. Then, strangely enough, character is built during practice because of the speeches like those that he often gives to my team. In turn, in my own life, I've grown to be a better person.
In this essay, I rarely used the word hero. I don't want to keep saying, "My coach is a hero..., He's a hero because…, etc.” Instead I'd rather explain how he is. I'd rather explain how I'm a better person, how I go that one extra step, how I want to be amazing and how I want to inspire someone. And that is the main thing, I want to inspire someone like my coach inspires me. I want someone to be able to look up to me like I look up to my coach. My coach, even though he can be extremely annoying, is the reason I want to be amazing. He's a hero.
Anna Fournaris (Age 12) – Chattahoochee Gold Swim Team, Woodstock, Ga.
My coach, Danielle Wenger, means a lot to me. She pushes me with my swimming while also building me up every day, with a "redonkulous" smile on her face and stupid jokes (hence, redonkulous) up her sleeve.
She is my inspiration. Although she joined swimming as a preteen, she earned a full-ride scholarship to a District I college. She swam for four years with the Milwaukee Panthers swim team as a well-known distance swimmer where she broke the collegiate record in the 1650.