Club Excellence Spotlight: Rockville Montgomery Swim Club
By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
In five years of participation in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program, Rockville Montgomery Swim Club in Maryland has consistently established itself as one of the top programs in the country, achieving gold medal status from 2010-2013 and silver medal status in 2014.
The team currently boasts nearly 2,000 swimmers at five different training sites, making it one of the largest teams in the country, and they’ve translated those numbers into great results by sending several dozen swimmers to junior nationals and nationals each year, while placing scores of swimmers in the top age group rankings.
Dave Greene, the site director at the Rockville Swim Center, credits the combination of experienced coaches, top-notch facilities and a focus on providing a team for all levels in attracting so many young swimmers to the team year after year. Greene highlights those and other factors in the team’s success in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.
1. We have a very experienced staff. Our club is more than 45 years old, and I would say that we have at least 20 or more coaches who have been with the program 15 or more years; six have been here over 30 years. One of the original founders of the team, Jim Williams, has been coaching the National Training Group continuously since 1968. The consistency and quality of our staff is key. One interesting fact regarding our coaching staff is that although we have over 100 coaches, we have no “head” coach. Because the staff has been together for so long, we just work together as a team to provide our families with the best program that we can.
2. We have fantastic facilities. The City of Rockville and Montgomery County have consistently supported aquatics at the highest level. As a recreation program offered by these two local governments, we’ve been able to take advantage of state of the art facilities and provide a community-based program that offers swimmers of every level the opportunity to participate. With five multi-pool indoor complexes and four outdoor long course pools, RMSC is able to offer each level of swimmer both the pool time that they need as well as the training conditions they are looking for. We have morning practices seven days per week at each of the practice sites and then full afternoon and evening programs sometimes running until 9:00 pm. These great facilities coupled with a large and experienced staff of coaches allow us to handle what might otherwise be an unmanageable number of swimmers and provide for a very low swimmer to coach ratio.
3. We stay very connected with the local swimming community. Most of our swimmers get started with RMSC after beginning their swimming career on a local summer community team. The Washington, DC area has been featured nationally as a hotbed for local community summer league swimming. Just one league in Montgomery County has over 90 teams and 15,000 swimmers. In addition, despite the fact that none of our local public high schools has its own pool, high school swimming is also wildly popular with most teams having well over 100 swimmers. Since most of our coaches are veteran swimmers of the RMSC program and are actively involved in the local summer leagues and high school programs as well, this keeps us well-connected with both the up and coming swimmers as well as maintaining a good working relationship with our other swimming communities.
4. We develop the vast majority of our swimmers. Most of our swimmers join RMSC when they’re 5, 6 or 7 years old. This gives us a chance to help them develop and move up through the entire program. We do a very good job developing swimmers from the very beginning and we’re confident that our swimmers can compete at every level of USA swimming. Over all our 45 years, we’ve been very well represented at international, national and regional competitions. This past year we took over 60 swimmers to junior nationals as well as enjoying seeing our college swimmers at the NCAA championships across all three divisions. That being said, we don’t measure our success by the number of swimmers who go to Olympic Trials, but instead by the number of swimmers who complete their career with us, or the number who choose to go on and swim in college and graduate. We’re a community-based program that can celebrate a win at the Mini Championships with equal pride to a Junior National team championship.
5. We offer a great value. As a recreation program offered by the two local governments, the RMSC program is not constructed to generate large profits for owners or coaches. Ninety-nine percent of our coaches work part-time at coaching. They start and stick around not for the money, but for the love of the sport of swimming and for their pride in the RMSC program. With the help of our supporters such as Speedo and Aardvark Swim and Sport, we’re able to keep the costs of swimming as low as possible, while providing an outstanding coaching staff, superior facilities, and a great sense of pride in both our current successes as well as the wonderful history of RMSC.