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 week we’re taking a look at Hurricane Aquatics of Miami, Florida. Hurricane Aquatics swims out of the University of Miami pool, and offers a range of services, from learn-to-swim lessons to a master’s program to a competitive USA team numbering roughly 70 swimmers.
Programs Director Liz Kershaw founded Hurricane Aquatics in 2014 after coaching at club and college teams across the country. We spoke with Kershaw to get an idea of her coaching philosophy, as well as some thoughts on what makes Hurricane Aquatics special.
Kershaw describes her coaching philosophy as…
You have to want to be here for all of it. For the hard work, the cold/rainy weather training outside in January, the workouts before school, to the team parties, taper, racing and looking up to see success. Only if you want to be here can you really enjoy what you are doing and call swimming FUN.
That emphasis on wanting to be here is something that permeates throughout the whole team, resulting in a team culture where swimmers and coaches alike supporting and pushing each other on the path to improvement.
Everything we do as a team is centered around “CANES want to be here” and “CANES are better together”. Our hashtag #CANESW2BH grew out of these concepts. Swimmers, coaches, parents, volunteers, all of us, we have to want to contribute to making CANES better. We will only reach our full potential as individuals if we work together, and push each other to be better, in and out of the water. Our team doesn’t have practice requirements because I don’t want swimmers in the water that don’t want to be at the pool and who don’t want to work that day. When we step on the deck it’s to work and improve. Our team recognizes that hard work can be fun/rewarding and is even more so with the push/support of our teammates. We all help each other and have been helped along the way.
Swim coaches usually don’t get to have as much fun with the X’s and O’s of in-game decision-making as football or basketball coaches, but they do get to show off their creativity with practice sets, and we love asking coaches about what they’d consider to be their team’s “iconic” set. For Hurricane Aquatics, it’s…
6 x 3 x 100 on 2:00 all out. On the first 100 of each round, swimmers who can come within 5 seconds of their best time can “earn” skipping the next 2 x 100’s. IF they come within 7 seconds of their best they can skip either of the next 2, but not both. Anything slower than 7 seconds over they swim all 3 for that round. No breaks between rounds. The swimmers get so excited to “only have to do 6 x 100’s” all-out.
We all know that coaching, especially coaching well, isn’t easy. We asked Kershaw to describe her biggest struggle as a coach, and how she’s learned to overcome it.
Both my husband and I are swim coaches. When we got married we were both coaching college. We knew that us both coaching at the collegiate level was going to be next to impossible so I switched to club coaching. We have moved twice and both times I have left national level athletes and started over with B/C or BB level swimmers. My biggest struggle is having the patience to let young developing swimmers grow into their best. It doesn’t happen in one or two seasons, and I’ve become a much better coach over the years learning how to motivate/train different types of athletes to push to the next level. My husband and I have been very fortunate we’ve both been able to coach for 20+ years. And love what we do.
Most coaches don’t get a chance to start a program, but when you do, it can lead to some very special memories.
When we moved to Miami, I invited 17 swimmers out of swim lessons and created Hurricane Aquatics Swim Team on April 1, 2014. We were so novice that I had to explain what USA Swimming was, we went to our first meet in May of 2014. 100% of our swimmers/swims were entered as NT. I keep the picture of that meet as a reminder of how far our program has come. Every year we talk about all the new “firsts” our team has accomplished. So far, we have improved as a program every year for 6 years, and I continue to let my team know our team goal is Olympic Trials.
Hurricane Aquatics 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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