By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Wednesday, January 22, 2020
For the sixth year in a row, Nation’s Capital Aquatic Club in the Washington, D.C. area has earned USA Swimming’s highest level of club recognition, with a top-scoring gold medal performance in the 2020 Club Excellence program.
Clubs can earn gold, silver or bronze medal recognition and grant money from USA Swimming through a points system based on the time performances of their swimmers ages 18 and under, and the place performances of their open water swimmers at major competitions. NCAP earned 81,529 points to top runner-up SwimMAC Carolina, who posted 63,258 points in 2019.
“[Winning Club Excellence] is, as always, a result of a lot of people doing a lot of good, smart, hard work over a period of time,” said NCAP coach Bruce Gemmell. It’s not just one year but many years in the making, and hopefully many more to come.”
Gemmell said that the rankings are something the team keeps in mind, but doesn’t dwell on, and individual improvements amongst the swimmers are the main reason behind their streak.
“It is one thing that we always keep in mind, but we don’t dwell on it,” he said. “We take pride in having the championship and focus on helping each individual improve from where they are, to where they can be, and that rolls itself together into really good team results.”
With around 1,800 registered athletes training at multiple sites, the coaches must work together and also independently to ensure the team operates as a successful unit. That, along with other factors, has been one of the main reasons Gemmell identified behind the club’s success:
1. The depth and breadth of our coaching staff. We have lots of coaches who all have their own way of doing things and their own spin, strengths and experiences, and that’s the strength of USA Swimming overall. We’re a microcosm of that and appreciate each other’s differences and ways of doing things, and not forcing the idea that there’s only one way to do things.
2. The willingness of our families and swimmers to work collaboratively with challenging situations and circumstances throughout the year.
3. Leadership at the top of the club supporting elite high-level performance at the national and international level.
With a list of decorated past and current swimmers like Tom Dolan, Mike Barrowman, Katie Ledecky, Andrew Seliskar and Cassidy Bayer, as well as current national and junior national team members Phoebe Bacon, Erin Gemmell, Paige McKenna, Chase Travis and Claire Nguyen, NCAP is well on its way to earning gold medal status for years to come.