By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Richard Hunter knows what it takes to dedicate his life to swimming, both as an athlete and a coach. He makes his health a top priority in all areas of his life. His devotion to intellectual, physical and occupational wellness is equally as important on the deck as it is away from the pool.
As a swimmer, Hunter competed for the Mission Viejo Nadadores in California as an age grouper. In college, he swam for UC Berkeley and participated in the NCAA Division 1 Championships as a junior and senior in 2007 (8th place team finish) and 2008 (4th place team finish). Hunter finished his swimming career competing at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 100 Breaststroke.
Hunter returned to the Nadadores as a coach after graduating from Berkeley and was a 13-14 Division Director, National Team Assistant Coach, and Dryland Programming Director over a period of six years. He began coaching with TIDE Swimming in Virginia in August of 2016 as the Associate Head Coach and was promoted to Head Coach in the fall of 2019. Since joining TIDE, the program has increased by nearly 250 members. Hunter was named the Virginia Swimming Senior Coach of the Year for 2019. He also coached four athletes who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which has been postponed until next year.
More than ever, though, Hunter is focusing on his own wellness while still motivating his swimmers to stay healthy.
“Intellectual wellness is crucial for me in staying constantly stimulated and engaged. At this point in time, the ease of access to countless resources is amazing,” Hunter said. “I have found that staying connected to fellow colleagues and former coaches of mine is my preferred method for increasing my knowledge base and bouncing ideas around. But supplementing those conversations with online resources and even through social media, by staying up-to-date with what is going on in the world of swimming, keeps me engaged and wanting to learn and grow more each day. Given that we use swimming as a medium to look at ways to better ourselves and those around us, the number of topics to learn is never ending.”
“How I look at physical wellness has shifted quite a bit over the past 10 years. When I started coaching, I had a lot of deck time, but very little administrative work. I was able to dedicate 2 to 3 hours a day to working out and training for triathlons. In that way, I think my perspective on physical wellness was still one of an athlete. As my professional roles expanded, I found myself wanting to stay physically active, but looking at it as a medium for me to feel good versus a way to improve for some form of competition. Now, as a head coach, and more importantly, a new father, I have found that I am so much more aware of how my own physical fitness can positively impact my mood and the other areas of my life. I may have less time to work out, but my ability to engage as a father and husband, as a coach and colleague, and as a brother, son and friend, thrives when I prioritize even 30-45 minutes to doing something physical.”
“I look at occupational wellness as grounded in two areas. First, the day-to-day, week-to-week, season-to-season, and year-to-year plans I have in place, allow me to measure progress and stay connected to my short and long term goals and objectives. Second, the relationships with fellow staff, athletes, members and colleagues are the variables that challenge me every day. I love that each day is different from the next based on all of the individual interactions that take place. Being challenged and feeling equipped to deal with those challenges (and learning from those experiences when I may not be equipped to deal with them), keeps me as interested in this profession today, as it did the first day I began coaching.”