By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Friday, January 19, 2018
For the fourth year in a row, Nation’s Capital Swim Club has taken top honors in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program. With 91,597 points, NCAP finished more than 30,000 points ahead of the second place team, SwimMAC Carolina, in the 2018 rankings.
“Finishing first in Club Excellence isn’t necessarily the main focus for our yearly goals, I think it just tends to happen as a result of how we’ve structured the team,” said Tom Ugast, CEO at NCAP. “We do focus a lot on long course as being a major part of what we do, and that’s a big part of our Club Excellence points.”
NCAP’s focus on long course paid off last summer as Phoebe Bacon (100m back), Chase Travis (open water) and Sam Pomajevich (200m fly) all made the 2017-2018 National Junior Team with their performances. But it’s not just training hard, but having fun, that really sets NCAP apart.
“I think the unique thing about us is athletic excellence, but having fun while you’re doing it,” said Ugast. “We’re an age group team. We don’t have a pro team here. Besides training hard, they’ve got to have fun.”
Ugast shares the other keys to NCAP’s success in this week’s Club Excellence spotlight.
1. Our coaching staff is dedicated to helping our athletes reach their highest potential.
We have a staff of 70 coaches, 20 full-time and the rest part time. All of them understand that our goal is to help the kids achieve the highest level of performance they can, through practice, doing well in school and being good teammates. And having a great time in the sport as an age grouper. We all have the same motivation to help these kids swim fast. It starts with good instruction.
2. Commitment to train and educate the coaching and support staff.
We make sure in our yearly budget that we have money to send our coaches to seminars to learn from other coaches. We all don’t know everything, and we’re all willing to learn and try new things. We take the time and effort to study.
3. Our parents support our team philosophy – “Coach driven, parent supported.”
One of our mantras is that the team is coach driven, parent supported – educating the parents on what their role is within their child’s sport. They’re a cheerleader; they help their kids do their best by supporting them, not trying to coach them. Coaches coach, parents support.
4. Gradually building commitment and training.
We only want our 8-and-unders to come twice a week; 9-10s, three to four times; 11-12s, four to five. Once they become teenagers, they start to ramp up the commitment and training. We focus on teaching the correct strokes, but don’t burn them out early.
5. Coaches focus on coaching, support staff focus on the business side.
Since we’re so large (10 training sites), our office staff can help the coaches manage meets and collect dues and fees, to allow the coaches to focus on the workouts, team groups and the swimmers – the “wet” side – without being tied down with the “dry” side.