Club Excellence Spotlight: Nation's Capital Aquatics


Katie Ledecky celebrates her meet record in the 1500 at 2013 Nationals. (Medium)By Emily Sampl//Correspondent

Under a new name and new ownership, Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP) has carried on its rich tradition of excellence with a fourth-place showing in this year’s Club Excellence standings.

Highlighted by Katie Ledecky’s stunning Olympic gold medal in the women’s 800m freestyle last summer, NCAP has exploded into one of the nation’s top programs. With more than 1,000 swimmers at multiple training sites across the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, NCAP consistently produces USA Swimming national team members and Scholastic All-Americans.

“In a year where we had a lot of changes and some negative things, I think this is our most successful year in terms of 18-and-unders,” said Tim Kelly, head coach of the American University site.

Kelly offers five areas that have made NCAP so successful in the past, and recently:

1. Our coaching staff is one of our most valuable attributes. We’re not a typical format of a club in that we have several different sites, and each site runs independently. Collectively, as a club, when we get together and make decisions, there are a lot of personalities and styles but we all come together and look at the betterment of the team and at the big picture of the club. Those different personalities and styles are really what make our team successful.

2. The consistency of our vision as a club is passed on to everyone who ends up being a part of our club. We have a lot of former swimmers that have found a way back to coaching with the club and have an understanding of our philosophy as a club. We have some coaches who swam with the team and came back later, and some coaches who have been with the team for many years. That consistency is a huge asset.

3. We’ve always had great support amongst one another – between the coaches, the swimmers and the parents. There’s always been a great relationship even though we’re at different sites and a large team. All of the levels collectively work together really well.

4. As a club, all of the staff has a good sense of the importance of where swimming fits into the balance of academics and swimming. Year in and year out we have large numbers of local/national scholar athletes at the USA Swimming level. Having that balance keeps kids leveled about the importance of where swimming fits into their life, and the kids are consistently more successful in the grand scheme of things.

5. We’ve been lucky enough to have such a great tradition at an international and national level. We have several national championships and gold medals on our resume. Last year before Trials, we had our previous Olympians and national champions at a gala sendoff for the kids going to Trials. That was such a huge thing, whether it was the kids actually going to Trials or the starry-eyed 10 year-olds. Someone as young as Katie Ledecky was last year – her understanding of that tradition is way above that of a 15 year-old. We’re really lucky to have those people that have come before.

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