VIDEO: Rowdy Gaines to direct 30 Central Florida YMCA locations, modeling program after SwimMAC

  35 Jared Anderson | March 31st, 2014 | Club, Featured, National, News, Video, Video Interview

pinit fg en rect gray 28 VIDEO: Rowdy Gaines to direct 30 Central Florida YMCA locations, modeling program after SwimMAC

Perhaps best-known right now as the voice of televised swimming, Olympic gold medalist and International Swimming Hall of Fame member Rowdy Gaines is now set to impact the sport in a new way. The 55-year-old Gaines announced over the weekend that he has been named Vice President of Aquatics for the Central Florida YMCA, overseeing 30 different facilities  in the Orlando area.

Gaines gives plenty more details in the three-and-a-half minute video above, but one notable theme is that Gaines intends to model the Central Florida program after David Marsh‘s SwimMAC Carolina club, perhaps forming another “super-club” in the Orlando area.

After spending the weekend covering the men’s NCAA Championships for ESPN3, Gaines expressed excitement to get involved with the sport in a new way than through the press box he’s manned for every major televised competition the past decade. Check out the full video for more thoughts from Gaines moving forward, plus the major goals for his new club system.

Comments

  1. Hulk Swim says:
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    Sounds awesome! Best of luck. SMASH.

  2. bobo gigi says:
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    And if I have well understood, Michael Andrew will train there?

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      bobo gigi – we saw the comments from Lester, and spoke with the Andrew team about it, and they wouldn’t confirm the information in those comments.

  3. LowGap says:
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    The new trend in US club swimming… Mega clubs. If you can’t win, put you and 30 of your best friends/enemies/other guys you sort of know under the same banner. Is this what is best for the athletes?

    • Chris says:
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      LowGap, it is in club swimming b/c it’s happening everywhere else too (big business mergers, conglomerates like GE, the list could go on and on).

      I’d assume the reason 30 different programs did not exist in these 30 different pools is b/c there was not enough money to make them viable. As a ‘mega club’ there is a better chance of viability and hopefully success for the kids.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      LowGap – the “is this what is best for athletes” question is an interesting one, and I think it’s one we’ll look at in the next few weeks.

      We’ll have to define the parameters of what’s “best for athletes” first. Then we’ll have to define the parameters of what we consider a “mega club” (the club I swam for in high school practices out of about 6 different pools, but they’re all in the same city, they’ve always been this way, and I want to say they have about 250 swimmers. Does that constitute a ‘mega club’?)

      Then there’s the question of economics. Are these clubs saving money by being administered together? If they are, does that savings get passed along to benefit the swimmers? And does this move us closer-and-closer to a ‘pro league’?

      It’s a very good discussion, though. On its surface, it seems like most of the ‘mega clubs’ are still producing an impressive density of high-quality talent, so from that regard it doesn’t appear to be hurting.

    • jman says:
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      I think that NCAP has is right for a super club (and maybe AAAA). One large club that competes together that is made up of multiple independently run sites.

  4. Chris says:
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    It is interesting to hear Rowdy’s large scale vision for the program, but I’m interested to hear specifics: what elements of Dave Marsh’s program is he going to emulate? More interesting: how is he going to implement…

  5. Coach T says:
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    How could swimming on a relay with an athlete you’ve never trained with, maybe never even competed against be the “best interest

  6. Coach T says:
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    How could swimming on a relay with an athlete you’ve never trained with, maybe never even competed against be the “best interest of the athlete”
    Here in Illinois said superclub has locations in Chicago suburbs and Springfield. Hundreds of miles apart and the athletes barely know each other and often don’t have any contact until day of meet/championship.

    It’s all about the money here in IL, not the athlete. It’s sad. Soon IL swimming LSC will be renamed “Academy of Illinois”

    • Swim supporter says:
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      You have no idea what you’re talking about. Please know your facts before throwing out your slanderous commentary.

    • Anonymous says:
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      Coach T is right on spot with assessment of IL superclub and LSC, he has his facts correct and certainly not slanderous commentary Swim Supporter….it is sad but true

      • Ronald says:
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        I don’t see anything wrong with Academy is doing, its just strange that other teams haven’t followed their lead. I found it strange that the Springfield team wouldn’t have merged with teams in its own region to form their own unique megaclub. I’m still waiting for a couple other teams in the area to “fight back” with their own merger.

        One issue that Academy and other clubs that go the route of absorbing other teams is that of protecting their “brand”. You may take over a team and slap a bunch of caps on those swimmers heads and outfit the new coaches with your gear, but are they really up to your standards? You get certain locations that put out a better product than the others in the franchise. Newer parents see the big name team is now in their neck of the woods and assume that its the same swimming experience as the flagship location. Often times they would be better served going with a small, but more established team in their neighborhood.

        • Anonymous says:
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          Precisely Ronald! Academy may have absorbed and taken over a down state team, but by keeping the same coaching staff in place they definitely are NOT protecting their “brand” nor their standards of high quality, professional coaching. In my opinion this is why Springfield wouldn’t have been able to merge with anyone in their region, the coaches in the region all new better than to take on that staff.

        • Devbot says:
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          I completely disagree. As an academy elite team swimmer who has swam for multiple other teams, I can truly say there is not a more supportive group of swimmers and coaches anywhere. No matter what site you swim at, ALL of the coaches have a common goal of seeing that each swimmer, no matter the site, reaches his/her goals. All members of the elite team are required to represent academy positively both in and outside of the pool. There is no “slapping on caps” to the new swimmers. You have to earn it to be on the elite team. All members of the elite team are held to the same high standards of training and healthy lifestyle choices. How can you argue that the coaching staff doesn’t stick to the “brand”? Yes our coaches have slightly different styles, but it teaches us to work well in different environments and deal with different personality types. My team mates are my best friends even though I do not get to see them everyday. It makes it all the more special when I get to spend time with them on Saturday practices and at meets. We live the one team motto everyday even though we are not always together.

      • Swim supporter says:
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        How is he right on the spot? How does he know that club’s financial status? How does he know know the daily workings of the program? How is it sad that athletes are experiencing success? So you’re saying every multiple site club is “all about the money”? Does that mean NCAP, Dynamo, MAC, Rockville Montgomery, KC Blazers, Nitro, Swim Atlanta (I could go on and on) are all bad for swimming too? By your thinking, are HWSA & CWAC also bad because they have more than 1 site? Or is it just this one because they are the first to largely expand? Or is it better to be a club that has 500 swimmers but only at 1 site and never do anything at the national level?

        As for the LSC, I don’t believe there are any LSC board members from that club.

        I stand by my statement that Coach T (and now you, Anonymous) don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Anonymous says:
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          Everyone is entitled to their opinion and don’t put words in others mouths…I grew up swimming for a satellite club during the 90’s that had many different locations and coaches and only came together at certain big meets….so yes, I know what I am talking about…the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and there are pros and cons to small clubs and large “mega”clubs. Also, for as big as Academy is, they aren’t necessarily getting the job done on a national level, it is a matter of perspective and your own measures of success.

          As for the LSC, they had staff as board members up until last spring, and they have a few coaches on LSC committees, so maybe you should get your facts straight.

        • Ronald says:
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          I actually don’t think Academy is wrong for expanding, which I said in my first sentence. I think more teams in the area should merge and reap the benefits that occur in such arrangements.
          I pointed out one of the big negatives of these mergers: protecting the quality of your staff and your team. This is a unique issue for the merger strategy of building a megateam. Some of the big teams around the country build their powerhouses from the ground up and control their “brand” a little more. There can be benefits to both methods.
          Academy and other big teams shouldn’t be seen as evil entities. Competition is good and strong teams will survive and thrive if they are doing a good job on the deck everyday!!

    • Sarah says:
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      The problem for Academy is not size, it’s the potential destruction of a great brand. Academy has not 1 but 6 head coaches with 6 completely different training philosophies. It’s clearly a competition between coaches on the same team, which can’t be a healthy enviroment for the swimmers. To the best of my knowledge SwimMac, Nitro, NCAP, Dynamo, etc. have a core philosophy towards training that is implemented at each site. The size of the team is really irrelevant, the question is can any organization exist without a foundation of core beliefs and consistent execution of those beliefs across the organization. Lack of core principals and a central philosophy kills brands and will ultimately lead to the demise of any organization. Kids and parents will ultimately decide; is it better to buy championships or build champions?

      • Bullet says:
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        We are not competing site to site. The competition, if any, on our team is just like any small team (vying for relay spots etc.) we train together and are a family. I recently switched to Bullets, but I feel closer to EVERYONE on this team than I did in my old one.

    • DSwim9 says:
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      You are absolutely wrong about the “barely knowing each other part.” I know EVERY single person that was at NCSAs this spring and I don’t just mean their names. I could tell you everyone’s life story, even those from Springfield who live many miles away. My group of best friends consists of at least 1 person from each site and we talk to each other every day. You obviously don’t know anything about this team or the way it runs so please do your research next time you try to attack a team. OR just ask someone who is experiencing it firsthand. This team is more of a team than any other team in Illinois and we just so happen to be the biggest.

  7. Kendall Mey says:
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    Hasn’t the Orlando Y program been a bit in disarray and gone through a number of fairly big name coaches in recent years?

  8. Dean Ottati says:
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    Couple of comments. Was in Orlando for the first time about two weeks ago. Watched a meet at one YMCA facility, worked out at another YMCA facility. Both were really nice. YMCA is apparently a very big deal in Florida in a way that it isn’t in California. Rowdy will be stepping in to an outstanding infrastructure.

    As for the “best for the athletes” question. Will have to think about that some more. But, our club has just started down this path, operating out of two pools. One of the benefits was when it came to attending Winter Jrs, a bigger group of kids got to attend as one. This allowed them both to have a more sizeable cheering contingent and to put together competitive relays they wouldn’t have had had they attended as two separate teams.

    SwimMAC, NITRO, NCAP etc. etc. etc. Swimming out of multiple pools is probably the future…

  9. coach says:
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    More athletes in the program increase the odds you will develop elite swimmers. How many of the top 10 teams from Jr Nats, Nationals even Y Nationals come from programs with 200 or less kids on the team? A program that touches 400, 500 or up to 1,000 kids are going to find athletes. The “big box swim clubs” will drive the team points, but don’t forget about the value a one site program brings to an athletes development.

    • Really says:
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      Highlander Aquatics, strangely enough they’re from Orlando!

      • Coach says:
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        I stand corrected, don’t forget the lesson/feeder program Highlander runs also in your athlete totals.

    • TXSWIM says:
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      We have loved being a part of Bill Christensen’s North Texas Nadadores which is a one site team. The men, especially, have done well at national meets. They were third at the 2012 Winter Juniors and top ten at the 2013 Winter Juniors. Not bad for a team of about 250 swimmers!

  10. Coach T says:
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    Yep, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve only been coaching in IL and IN for 10 years and before that, swimming in IL LSC for 20 years. I’ve watch numerous clubs grow in the LSC but what ACAD is doing doesn’t make sense to me. How can you call it the same team when they are hundreds of miles apart with different head coaches and philosophies at each site yet they come together at big meets as one team. They celebrate state championships as a team when sadly it’s really 5-8 different teams that won with the money all funneling into one man’s bank account. Don’t see how that’s good for the kids or the sport.

    • Bullets Elite Swimmer says:
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      So because my team is the largest in Illinois and has multiple sites hundreds of miles apart, we suddenly aren’t considered one team? Explain to me how for some reason we all come together every Saturday for a team practice, go out to breakfast with each other regularly, hang out on weekends because we choose to be with our teammates, and even have training trips as a TEAM to all of our sites because we obviously barely know each other at all. I’ve spent one season with this team and I have never felt more apart of anything in my whole lifetime. I’m rather sorry that you have the unfortunate ability to not process that people from different sites, hundreds of miles apart can still be great friends and teammates.

    • Mandy says:
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      Thank you coach T, you certainly have done something positive for the Bullets, you’ve actually brought us even closer together trying to prove our relationships and all.

  11. Andy Fishkinz says:
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    Isn’t a coaches greatest accomplishment about coaching swimming seeing your swimmers rise from a 10 and under to competing at the national level, or high school level? How can you do that at a team like Academy’s? Especially when swimmers who were taught to swim at a different club team then move to Bullets? There is not as much of a swimmer to coach relationship that a swimmer can receive at a smaller club team. As a coach I don’t know how you can feel like you are accomplishing anything while coaching at a team like Academy Bullets. How can you watch your swimmers grow with new locations being added, swimmers and coaches moving in an out, and so many kids?

  12. Academy Fan says:
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    One time someone on the Academy Bullets punched me…it was awesome

  13. Amanda says:
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    The Academy Bullets Swim Club is the closest swim team in Illinois. You are all speaking to the swimmers themselves. No matter what you say, my best friends and I will stick up for our team because we cannot stand the ignorance of all of the outsiders. I invite you to follow any of us on social media to see how much we correspond and tell us, then, that we do not even know one another.

  14. NotMattLee says:
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    Before my small old team ever merged with Bullets, I always thought that these were the closest friends and coaches I’ll ever have for a one site team. Of course, I was wrong. Our old team merged with the Academy Bullets and I can tell you that this was the best decision in my swimming career so far. As practices began with the new coach for our site, it was a huge step for all my friends and myself. Our site coach, Jeremy, educated us not only in swimming but individually seeing why we are made of. As an elite swimmer, I’ve drastically improved my swimming not only because of Jeremy, but because of my friends all over the Bullets family. Never once have I thought this club was all about money.. It is about swimming and friendship.

  15. Academy Parent says:
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    As a parent of 2 swimmers and going from a small team into a larger one – I can say to those who are throwing around negative comments about the Bullets or any other large team with multiple sites, don’t judge until you know full details about said teams. My kids wear their Bullets gear proudly and love being a part of this team. We have been on other teams and Bullets strive very hard to make everyone feel like they are apart of the team, regardless of abilities. There are always opportunities for every swimmer to compete and train. The team philosophy from the day 1 has always been ONE TEAM. The coaches, swimmers and parents ALL support this mind set. The kids may train at different sites during the week but all come together on weekends via practices and meets. The coaches may do slightly different workouts or have a bit of different coaching philosophy but that is what makes having all thae coaches a great asset for these kids because all the kids are exposed to all the coaches throughout the season. The coaching staff is stronger because of this as well and work together sharing information and knowledge of things that work and don’t work and support all the swimmers no matter their abilities.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every …

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