U.S. National Team member Ashley Twichell is a 2-time World Champion in open water swimming, including an individual win in the 5k event at this summer’s 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. until 2013, she was also a Mission Viejo Nadador(e), training with coach Bill Rose and staff as she got her first big international-level breakthroughs. On the occasion of the retirement of Mission Viejo head coach Bill Rose this week, Ashley shared her thoughts about her mentor.
As coach Bill Rose celebrates his official retirement this weekend, I wanted to share my profound gratitude for the impact he has had on me. I didn’t think there could be many things more difficult than some of the grueling workouts Coach Rose has devised over the years; however, attempting to put into words what this man means to me, to so many others, and to the sport of swimming has proven to be an even bigger challenge. I’ve really struggled with how to write this, so I decided to start by sharing an email Coach Rose sent me back in July of 2011 (just two short months after I started at Mission Viejo), while I was at World Championships in Shanghai.
Ashley … As I tell most when they go off on their own, “remember who you are and what you represent”. If you ever need to call me, do not worry about the time here. I am available to you 24/7… Stay focused and believe in yourself and your abilities. You have heard this from me probably too much, but I BELIEVE IN YOU!!! Thank you for being a “Nadador” along the way. I am thinking good thoughts about you … Coach Rose
Selfless. Encouraging. Principled. Inspiring. Reassuring. Poised. Genuine. All of these qualities are so transparent in this email, and such an accurate portrayal of Coach Rose. The magnitude and extent of his influence is enormous (and much greater than he would ever acknowledge), and is evidenced by how well-known, and more importantly, how well-liked he is everywhere he goes.
I would never finish if I tried to write down everything that deserves to be said about Coach Rose, but I wanted to share a few of the many things I’m grateful for.
First and foremost, thank you for taking a risk on me and giving me the opportunity to become a part of the Mission Viejo Nadadores. Thank you for teaching me to be a champion, in whatever form that may be, each and every day. Thank you for pushing me to my limits, and then past them. Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for teaching me that “early” is actually “on time” (“early in..early”). Thank you for telling really bad jokes – and then laughing really hard at them. Thank you for reciting the Nadador creed at 4:45 AM every morning, even when all of us were grumpy. Thank you for putting me on my first international team, leading me to my first international title, and coaching me to my first national title. Thank you for making me laugh possibly the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life showing us your “prancersize” routine. Thank you for creating an atmosphere at the Nadadores that has given me some of the best memories of my life. Thank you for being such an integral part of such a close-knit team. Thank you for constantly reminding me that attitude is everything, and has an incredible impact on the outcome of an event. Thank you for being the star of the picture on my Facebook that has the most likes of any I’ve ever uploaded – you drinking a strawberry milkshake in South Africa. Thank you for instilling in your athletes the courage to go after their dreams. Thank you for teaching me about the stock market. Thank you for introducing me to my now favorite poem – “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Thank you for not giving up on me, when I was really close to giving up on myself. Thank you for the occasional “movie day” instead of practice, and thank you for the occasional breakfast at IHOP instead of practice; and speaking of, thank you for demonstrating to me that one can never put too much syrup on their pancakes. Thank you for your beautiful toast at my wedding. Thank you for teaching me that who you are and what you represent are of the utmost importance. Thank you for showing everyone you come in contact with the beauty of living life fully by pursuing your passion each and every day. Thank you for everything.
It may be over 6 years belated but in response to your email, Coach Rose, thank you for allowing me to be a Nadador. I’ll forever be indebted to you for extending to me the invitation to come out to Mission Viejo. Being coached by you has been an extraordinary journey, and one that I’m thankful for each and every day. It has truly been an honor. Once a Nadador, Always a Nadador.