by Chelsea white//usa swimming communications intern
Editor’s Note: Every Friday, usaswimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know” featuring some of the best age group and grassroots coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you ASCA’s San Diego Imperial Valley 2012-2013 Age Group Coach of the Year, Michael Galindo.
Michael Galindo is the senior assistant and age-group coach at North Coast Aquatics in San Diego, Calif., where he has been coaching for two years. Galindo has years of experience coaching at the age-group level, aside from having many personal swimming accomplishments. He was also selected to be the head coach for his club’s 2014 All-Star Team. Galindo graduated from the University of Michigan where he swam on the men’s team for four years and was the caption of the team his senior year. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and went on to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., before moving to the San Diego area.
What is your swimming background?
“I was club swimming since I was about 8 years old. I grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and swam in a lot of summer leagues; I swam for York Swim Club. I also did high school swimming in the D.C. area. I then went on to swim at the University of Michigan. I swam three years with Jon Urbanchek and then my last year was with Bob Bowman when I was the captain. I graduated there in 2005."
You grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, went to college in Michigan and now live in San Diego. Why such a jett-setter?
“After college I was going to go the law school route but then I got a job on Capitol Hill and ended up just not that into it. I thought maybe I could get into sales so did that for two years in San Diego. I really missed being around the pool and the energy surrounding it so that kind of really got me motivated to get back in. So I started working again with a swim club. It has been a lot of fun.”
Why age-group coaching?
“A lot of people ask me that question and my answer is that you really see some great results with age group. We had swimmers this weekend that dropped 10 seconds in hundreds! You can see situations like that and set that as a motivating foundation for the kids. For me, the college athlete is already engaged in the sport and you as the coach are just the maintenance. With age group there is goal-setting both in and out of the pool. It is fun to see some really great results off of their efforts and keep them in the sport and kind of get them to that next level.”
Did swimming collegiately help your coaching skills?
“I think I see it as a strength and a weakness. Strength side, being around guys at Michigan and Club Wolverine I have become an example to really let the kids know that anything is possible. When you see the results that those collegiate swimmers put up in the pool that really helps me give the kids something I am not just telling them but showing them with an actual example of someone who thought they could only go to here. The second part is that sometimes with coaching I think like a swimmer and not like a coach. Writing sets and what not I think “that seems hard” and then I have to stop and remember that I am thinking like I am doing the set in the pool, not like I am trying to get the swimmers to get better. But a lot of times I find myself thinking like I am the eleven to fourteen year old instead of the coach.
What was your experience like getting coached by legendary Bob Bowman?
“It was really cool getting to be around Bob Bowman and being around Michael Phelps with Michigan and just seeing the amount of work those guys put in both to their planning. Bob is definitely business wise in the pool, and probably one of the smartest guys on deck. I have worked a little bit with them with Michael’s swim school as well. They are just an incredible resource to have around. It is one thing to refer to what they are doing and it is another to witness it in person—it is an incredible thing.”
What is your favorite coaching memory?
“That is kind of tough. The No. 1 probably though is the fact that the Pacific Athletic Club from when I came in had a lot of talented kids in the pool but we were not getting to meets or competitions. They went from a non-scoring team in our 14 &Under Junior Olympics to a sixth-place team at that specific meet. It was an incredible thing to watch. To see those kids get that far. Same thing happened this last year with North Coast so it has really been exciting. Also Jeff, our club’s head coach, has been around the pool for almost 35 years now. When I and some other coaching staff were getting our plan ready for the season he was really supportive to what we wanted to do. We reorganized our entire program in the last six months; it is done all strictly through age groups now and with the different ability levels. So that was really cool to be able to have Jeff understand what we wanted to do. And then coming into this year’s Junior Olympics the team that was fourth place last year moved up to a close second in just about a year. So it was just really cool to have the support from the head coach and the staff to be able to do that and just kind of watch it happen.”
What is one piece of advice you would give young coaches?
“I think the greatest thing is to be a sponge. One of the things when I started coaching was that I was around all of these other great coaches that I started off trying to mimic what I saw. And a lot of other people have told me that they end up doing that. While that works for a month or maybe a year you don’t really get to see big results until you can take your own personality and put it into your coaching. So be a sponge—take in what other coaches have to say and do, but then have your own personality and your own delivery.”
What is your coaching philosophy?
“I think that hard work is No. 1 when it comes to prioritizing my coaching philosophy. We really try to teach the kids that it is hard work that is going to get you to that next level—especially at age group. The ability to work hard is one big thing that we want to turn over with our kids that go onto the senior program. The second thing I think is technique. You really have to make sure that at the age-group level you are having the proper technique; it takes focus. And I think the third is just learning how to race and be competitive. That is what we are seeing with a lot of our athletes is that they do not have that competitive edge, so that is something we really have to train and focus on. So if we can do all of those things at this level then that is what is going to help the swimmers to that senior level or collegiate level.”