While swimming around the world still looks a lot different than normal due to the effects of COVID-19, we’re still highlighting and celebrating swim teams from across the country. This month, we’re taking a closer at the Elmbrook Swim Club, a year-round USA Swimming club team based in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Elmbrook was founded in 1965, and since then, it has grown to 200 athletes, the team has been recognized as a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club of Excellence, and the club has had recent success on the national stage, including a NAG record-setting relay. We spoke with head coach Brent Boock, who’s been with the team since 1993, to get a sense of what makes Elmbrook special, as well as a few of his thoughts on swimming in general.
Boock describes his coaching philosophy simply as “Excellence In Life Through Swimming,” a phrase that’s also prominent on the team’s website.
According to Boock, the team chemistry is unique as Elmbrook because of how the swimmers themselves take ownership in ensuring that there is a great culture.
The athletes on the club and those that came before them have developed a great environment, it’s their team and their culture to develop, build upon, and pass down. The atmosphere around our parts is a fun, competitive, and supportive place to be. They want their teammates to be at their best, a teammate at their best will bring out the best in themselves both in and out of the pool. Life isn’t a zero-sum game and I feel the athletes on the club welcome that idea…why don’t we ALL be fantastic? Let’s go!
While Elmbrook doesn’t have any one or two particularly iconic team sets, the team atmosphere that Broock described is something that permeates even though the toughest workouts, as the athletes push each other to excel.
I am guessing they all have a “personal Waterloo” where they thought they were going to meet their maker, but I think they would say we don’t do anything special…certainly nothing iconic. It is not necessarily about the set but what the team brings to the set. Our most iconic sets are when the entire team is firing on all cylinders, there is an electricity in the air, fun stuff!
One of the most interesting topics of discussion in talking to swim coaches centers around the struggles they face in their profession, and they overcome those struggles. Boock pointed to a struggle that many coaches can identify with…
Being many things to many people, trying to carve out a personal life on the schedule of a swim coach. I don’t [have it figured out]…working on it…it’s a struggle.
When asked about their favorite memory, a lot of coaches point to the first time the team wins a championships, or something that happens at a big national meet, but Boock related a couple memories on a smaller scale that really capture the essences of why he, and many other coaches, choose to do what they do.
A few years ago, girl has a subpar 100 fly in C final. We are chatting (strong kid…holding back a few tears) while her teammate in the A final and lays down a devastatingly good 1st 50. I write the split down and look to talk to the first girl, and she is gone. Running down the pool deck to meet her teammate behind the blocks to congratulate her.
Recently an 18-year-old boy who had been travelling with the national team since he was 12 turned his permission forms in on time for the first time ever. A special moment we both appreciated, I teared up a bit.
Elmbrook Swim Club is one of 3,000 swim clubs in the United States. How can we grow that number and promote the sport?
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