By Stafford Braxton//USA Swimming Intern | Friday, February 26, 2016
Mike Norment has been a USA Swimming coach for over 10 years, developing and mentoring young swimmers through his swim club, The Metro Atlanta Aquatic Club and the Swim With A Purpose Swim School.As a former world-ranked swimmer and eight-time NCAA All-American, Norment’s swimming career spans over 20 years.
But his post-swimming professional plans got sidetracked when his wife demanded that he teach their four year old daughter to swim.
“I was nervous!” exclaimed Norment. “I love swimming, swimming was MY sport so I wanted to wait to see what my daughter enjoyed doing. I wanted to be her parent and support her, not coach her at the dinner table.”
While they were in the pool, other kids began to pay attention and ask questions. Before he knew it, Norment was surrounded by 30 children, wanting to learn how to swim.“My wife said it was a sign from God,” laughed Norment. “I had no choice, I was getting back into the pool, this time as a coach.”
He called his friend, Head Coach Melissa Wilborn at DeKalb Aquatics and was on deck coaching the very next afternoon.
After six years with DeKalb Aquatics, he decided to start Swim With a Purpose in Atlanta with partner Nathan Jones. At DeKalb, they built a lessons program from the ground up, servicing over 2,500 kids in the summer.
Norment began his new venture with four kids, teaching lessons at a public pool where he would wait poolside for more kids to show up.
“For the first year, we made no money,” he says. “Since we started small, our swimmers got a lot of individual attention, but as the program continued, we started to see small successes.”
Within the first year, two of Norment’s swimmers qualified for Junior Nationals. More followed with five qualifying the next year.
“We went from six lanes down to two lanes but the team had doubled in size [after the first year],” Norment reflects. “It forced us to be creative – how to use our time, organize workouts and come together as coaches. It forced us have high intensity workouts, which helped us in the end.”
That first year, Norment’s team saw an impressive growth of 65 swimmers crammed into four lanes with swimmers making it to Jr. Nationals and the Olympic Trials.
Michael Norment's impressive swimming career began at an early age, fostered by athletic-minded parents who enrolled him in swim lessons in his hometown of Hempstead, New York, under the coaching supervision of Robert Trotman and the Nu-Finmen swim team. Trotman, a USA Swimming Diversity and Inclusion award winner, coached Norment for seven years, preparing him for greater things.
Eventually, Norment moved from New York to Philadelphia to train with Coach Jim Ellis who was known for his advocacy and training of minority swimmers on a national level. 2007 film, Pride was based on Ellis’ program which helped diversify the sport and empower swimmers from underrepresented backgrounds.
“During that time in swimming, blacks were pigeonholed into the 50 freestyle,” he says. “But when I saw Jim’s team, they were doing 400's and 500's and I wanted to be on that team.”“I wanted to see what it was like to train with him,” he says. “I had never seen swimming that fast, it blew my mind how good his swimmers were.”
Ellis, who is also a USA Swimming Diversity Coaching Mentor, believed in his swimmers and gave them the tools to become successful in and out of the pool.
“He was so knowledgeable about swimming. It was hard and tough, but he gave his heart to it. That’s what inspired me to move down there and train with him: He was black and believed in me.”
Under Ellis’ direction, Norment continued his progression by winning Jr. National titles as well as National Championships.
Norment won NCAA and SEC titles as a freshman at Georgia and after completing his All-American collegiate career he took a year off, signed a contract with Speedo and began to swim professionally.
Having been influenced by some of the most dynamic coaches in the sport, Norment created his own distinct coaching style and continues to expand his knowledge in order to better serve his swimmers.
“It is important to understand as a coach, what you’re here to do,” says Norment. “I’m constantly reading and researching on how to make my swimmers better.”
He attributes his success as a coach to four things: perseverance, skill analyzing, self-assessment and adversity.“I’m extremely lucky to be passionate about what I do.”
For more information on Swim With a Purpose Swim School, visit: http://www.swimwithapurpose.com/
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