By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
In 1996, two Seattle-area swim teams, Highline Swim Club and Kent Area Dolphins, merged to form King Aqu
atic Club, which quickly became one of the premier year-round swim clubs in the Pacific Northwest. King has earned gold medal recognition in the Club Excellence program every year dating back to at least 2006, and helped produce U.S. Olympians Megan Jendrick (2008) and Ariana Kukors (2012).
Named after King County, King Aquatic Club now includes nearly a dozen training sites stretching from Federal
Way to Seattle. In mid-August, the team decided to go in a new direction, hiring Ash Milad and Doug Djang as co-head coaches, with former head coach Sean Hutchison serving as CEO and Director. Milad has been with King for 10 years, and says it has been a success so far.
“Doug and I work well together and bring different things to the table,” he said. “We coach our own groups, but bring our own strengths to the program. It was a very logical transition for the team. We’re both on the same page with the direction that we want the program to go.”
Despite the recent turnover in head coaches, King has had a relatively consistent coaching staff for the last decade, one of the contributing factors to the team’s success. Milad discusses that and more in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.
1. Our coaching staff is dedicated to making kids pay attention to their stroke count and kick. We reinforce stroke count from a young age and do some resistance training as they get older to reinforce that.
2. Culture of excellence. Our mantra as a coaching staff is every kid deserves a chance to be great. We don’t just coach the top kids. There are lots of little things we do to build on our culture of excellence, like at the end of every practice, the kids shake their coach’s hand as a sign of respect. Also, you’ll see every swimmer at practice wearing a team cap.
3. We are a coach-owned team, which has created more consistency within the coaching staff. We’ve gone through kind of a transition stage recently, with co-head coaches now, but some of our coaches have been here for more than 10 years, and a lot of our younger staff are former team swimmers, so that consistency has really helped.
4. Great support from our booster club. They do a great job with fundraising and subsidizing travel for all of the kids. The kids are used to traveling to meets, so by the time they get to the sectional level, they’re prepared to travel alone.
5. Our use of technology and the willingness of our staff to adapt to the changes within the sport over the years.