November 18, 2009

Coaching clinics are nice.  One of the problems though, is that you never get to really see how a coach implements what they're talking about, or probe their brain a little deeper to learn what really makes their program successful. 

That's one of the things that makes my job so great.  I get to travel around and visit practices, and see - firsthand - how some of the best practitioners of our sport do their craft. 
Last week, I finally made it over to Verona Aquatic Club.  VAC trains out of a little five lane pool in a monastic-high school-turned conference center, but there's something magical in the water.  Year-in-year-out, Coach Trowbridge turns out some of the best swimmers in the state, especially on the men's side.  This is a guy who was coached by Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Burton, who later coached his own Olympic Gold Medallist Neil Walker, and had a son fortunate enough to go out to Southern Cal and swim with Dave Salo. 
There was nothing magical in the practice he ran that night, but what was special was how Coach Trowbridge worked with his swimmers with an almost perfect blend of exceptionally high expectations, blunt honesty, but also understanding, patience and appreciation for his kids.

Before I left though, he did give me something magical - a quote that helps why we do what we do in swimming - without any guarantee of success.  "Winning it isn't the same as earning it."



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