This week’s BSN Sports Swim Team of the Week is the Austin Swim Club, of Austin, TX, a USA Swimming Silver Medal Club Excellence team that’s been serving the Austin area for years. The Austin Swim Club provides a variety of swimming programs, ranging from learn-to-swim, to Masters, to senior age groups that’ve prepared numerous swims to compete at the college level and beyond.
BSN Sports Team Ambassador Jessica Hardy spoke with head coach Chris Coghill to get his sense of what makes Austin Swim Club special, as well as some of his thoughts on coaching in general.
Coghill’s one-sentence philosophy of coaching is simply that, “Coaching comes down to trust and communication with the individual person, not just the athlete, to establish THEIR understanding of the specific details they need to improve upon consistently to be the best version of themselves.”
That focus on communication is reflected in the coaching staff approach to establishing a strong team culture.
We make sure the swimmer’s understand that the team culture and identity is truly theirs. Education about the values and traits that are important to our coaching staff, the “non negotiable’s”, is done early in each season, and continued throughout the season. As long as the swimmers stay within the guidelines of our overarching team values, they have the freedom to craft their own culture and identity as a group. That sense of ownership and unity fosters a cohesion, regardless of age, ability, or who they are away from the pool, that makes every experience together as ASC special!
When we asked Coghill about the specific ways that Austin Swim Club helps mold future leaders, he responded by saying…
This is a great question, and something that I think every coach should spend time working on! I often teach swimmers that the easiest place to start being a leader is by example, and then from there we work to take the next step into active leadership and engagement with their peers. We talk a lot about values. Everyone has a person in their past experience, swimming or not, that impressed something that resonated as important and became something that they try to emulate, whether they know it or not. We work together to identify what these values are, and what kind of behaviors demonstrate these values. Then, through a number of different exercises, peer coaching being a personal favorite, we practice impressing the values that matter to us in a humble and consistent way.
Many coaches talk about struggling with their own work-life balance, but Coghill recognizes that struggle applies to swimmers as well.
The biggest challenge that I find myself continuing to work through is establishing an appropriate life balance with each individual. Each swimmer on my team has their own mosaic of needs: academic, social, familial, or physical. The tricky part is keeping my place in that continually changing puzzle as a swim coach in perspective, and working with the individual to craft a schedule and mindset to enable success in each area of their life!
Coghill has been on the deck for a while now, but his favorite coaching memory is a relatively recent one.
My favorite coaching memory occurred just this past summer with our club up at Future’s in Des Moines. We had this meet circled on our calendar all season, and built our entire mindset for the meet around being 1% better each time we got in the water, and doing everything we could to help all of our teammates be 1% better as well. This meet was a fantastic demonstration of a team and growth focused mindset leading to tremendous success, both in the water and out of the water.
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