BSN Sports Swim Team of the Week: Gator Swim Club

The Gator Swim Club is one of the most legendary club teams in the world, having produced scores of NCAA All-Americans and Olympians. The club origins date to the 1970s when it was known as the Florida Aquatic Swim Team (FAST), but it’s been known by its current name since January 2000.

During that time, the Gator Swim Club has been closely associated with the University of Florida Gators, one of the premiere teams in NCAA competition. Many former Florida alumni choose to stay in Gainesville and train with the Gator Swim Club’s high performance group, which over the years has included names like Elizabeth Beisel, Caeleb Dressel, Conor Dwyer, and Ryan Lochte.

That high performance group is led by former Florida head coach Gregg Troy, who was one of the most successful coaches in NCAA swimming history. He also has a long list of accolades on the international level, including serving as head coach for the USA men’s team at the 2012 Olympics. Last year, Troy decided it was time to relinquish the reins of the college team, and instead he now focuses full-time on the Gator Swim Club’s high performance group.

BSN Sports Team Ambassador Jessica Hardy spoke with Troy, who said his one-sentence coaching philosophy “would be to help each athlete to work towards their goals in a manner that also provided good and useful life skills.”

While the GSC’s high performance team is of course united by their shared pursuit of international excellence, Troy revealed that their chemistry is special because “the individuals within the group and their care and compassion for one another,” and if you happen to follow any of those swimmers on social media, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re more like a family than co-workers.

Successful coaches tend to be driven and goal-focused, something that Troy realizes poses its own set of problems.

[My] biggest struggle is realizing the long term goal but staying in the present. The coach must do this but also keep the athlete in the present. A second would be making sure that you do not want the goal more than the athlete.

When you’ve coached as long as Troy and racked the up accolades like he has, there are plenty of great coaching memories that you could pick as your favorite. However, when asked about his favorite coaching memory, Troy didn’t mention NCAA or Olympic titles, and instead pointed out that

The most important part of the memories is the contact from athletes (from a variety of years ago) who still thank you for the values and things that they learned beyond just swimming. Very rewarding in a different scale than times, places, and awards.

The GSC’s team philosophy says that the team “uses the sport of swimming and its environment to teach life lessons.” This philosophy holds true for the high performance group, as Troy and the Gator staff want to see all their swimmers develop as future leaders by

Doing all possible to empower the athlete to be responsible for their actions. This requires communication regularly from both parties. Accountability, responsibility and leadership through actions is key in maturity and personnel development.

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