Club Excellence Coach Profile: Terry Fritch, SwimMAC Carolina
By Caitlin Foyt//Correspondent
SwimMAC Carolina is based in Charlotte, NC. The club finished fifth in the 2011 USA Swimming Club Excellence Gold Medal rankings. SwimMAC Carolina Lead Coach Terry Fritch talks about his coaching style and how he views his role as a swim coach.
Name: Terry Fritch
Title: Lead Coach for the Blue Training Group, the Nova Training Group, the Shark Division Leader and Marlin Division Leader at SwimMac Carolina.
Coaching history and background: I've been coaching for 20 years. I was an age group swimmer up to high school and when I graduated to college, that's when I picked up coaching swimming.
I swam for our local YMCA, played baseball and as I grew up through the Y it was my second home. My last year of swimming, I started helping out coaching the younger kids and when I stayed in town locally to go to college, because the Y helped me as a child, I wanted to give back. I just started falling in love with coaching and teaching and trying to have a positive effect in and out of the water for them.
Who are your coaching mentors? Pat Hogan from USA Swimming would probably be my biggest one. He was my first true head coach when I came down to MAC. When I came to MAC, I was looking for guidance on how to be a great leader. He was very gracious and took me to Nationals with him and I learned how to be tough with the kids and also when to give them a hug and say “that's OK.”
How would you describe your coaching style? I set standards high for my swimmers in and out of the water. I'm a teacher, so I'm OK with them making a mistake and then sitting down and saying “OK, how can this be a learning lesson for us?” Also, learning how these lessons apply outside the pool.
What is the most important role a swim coach serves for a team? It's customer service to the parents and because we are the face of the club, it's making sure that we are professional, educated on swimming and the club and can communicate that. It's also about creating a great foundation for the swimmers in the water and how that transfers to out of the water.
What advice do you find yourself repeating most often to your swimmers? Really, to take steps. Sometimes, we're in a hurry to get that big ambitious goal without understanding the steps to get there. To really understand that we focus on the process. Sometimes we lose track of how to get there because we're so excited about getting there.
What kind of challenges do you face as the coach of a successful club team? Balancing work and family life. I have two young kids and so learning how to be there for your swimmers and your responsibility for your job, but it's also about knowing when to say no and be there for family.
Please share a key moment or meaningful accomplishment in your coaching career: There's so many. I think it's really watching young swimmers reach a goal that they've worked so hard for and has taken awhile to get to. I think that's the biggest—I see them set the goal and it takes them a year or two years to reach it. It's awesome to see them go through the mountains and valleys and come out being successful in the end. It means so much more to them when they see that happen.
What one piece of advice do you have for young coaches that you wish you had learned earlier in your career? I think it's listening. When you get the opportunity to be an assistant coach you have to not only be able to listen but also have the courage to ask questions. Some of these coaches seem bigger than life and look awesome to you, but they have no trouble stopping to answer your questions. I guess, just don't be afraid to stop and ask questions when you're able to.