By Emily Sampl/Contributor | Thursday, November 17, 2016
With roughly 900 swimmers spread across multiple sites in the Virginia/Washington, D.C. area, Machine Aquatics has become exactly that – a powerhouse club that regularly churns out some of the top swimming talent in the United States. Machine’s recent performances have earned them recognition alongside USA Swimming’s top clubs, with a third place finish amongst Silver Medal clubs in 2016.
Head coach and team owner Dan Jacobs has worked alongside his wife, Paris, and a dedicated group of parents and support staff to ensure the team’s success both in and out of the water.“We want to be the best team in the country. That doesn’t necessarily mean the largest or the one with the most Olympians, but the best team that treats people the best,” Dan Jacobs said. “We have so many great people involved with the team from every background, and we’re all here just trying to get better!”
The Club Excellence program has provided the team with other ways of measuring their success, and assisted the team in helping its swimmers reach their goals as well.
“We definitely focus on Club Excellence. We use it as a measuring stick for what we’re doing and how we can improve,” Jacobs said. “We want to meet the requirements. We attack weaknesses and do the best that we can in as many areas as we can. Part of the program is holding the team accountable for things that we should be doing, and we like that.”
Jacobs discusses the biggest factors behind his club’s success in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
1. Our coaches are great, we have a great staff. When you hire a coach you want them to know swimming and be competent in technique, but when I interview coaches, the number one thing I look for is how they interact with people – with kids and adults. We want communicators and educators as much as coaches. We’re very picky when hiring our coaches, and several of our coaches grew up swimming for us and know the kind of technique work we do and how our team is run.
2. Our communication with our coaches is great – we have staff meetings monthly and site meetings weekly. We go over any issues, talk about technique and upcoming meets and plan for the future – our training plan, quad plan, meet schedule, etc. We’re constantly looking to each other to learn and see what’s working and what’s not. We always have each other’s back. We coach together and work together, and so when one of us is gone the kids know they’ll get what they need. We communicate with each other, with the athletes and with the parents. It’s a partnership between all of us.
3. Our education is another big thing for us. It’s important that just like any other field or profession, you’re constantly learning how to do things better. As soon as you stop doing that, someone is going to come along and do the job better than you. We want to swim against the best swimmers in the world and be challenged every day.
4. Team building is huge for us. We do team-building activities from all of our sites and we want our kids to know each other when they go to meets. We have 900 kids and we want them to go to meets and know everyone on their relays.
5. Administrative help. We have several people who do a ton for the team – answering phone calls, working with USA Swimming, answering emails, etc. A few years ago the coaches did all of that themselves in addition to coaching. Now that pressure has been taken off. We couldn’t do what we do as coaches at practice if we didn’t have the administrative staff behind us doing the behind the scenes work.