BSN Sports Swim Team of the Week: O2 Performance Aquatics

O2 Performance Aquatics of Irving, Texas, is this week’s BSN Sports Swim Team of the Week. O2 Performance Aquatics is a year-round, USA Swimming club dedicated to helping athletes of all levels and abilities achieve their potential and reach the highest of level of the sport that they can.

BSN Sports Team Ambassador Jessica Hardy spoke with head coach Gilberto Junior to get his take on what makes O2 Performance Aquatics special, as well as some more of his thought on coaching in general.

For Junior, O2 Performance Aquatics’ team chemistry is defined by the team members’ unity and regard for each other.

Our the team is unique and very different from any other team I’ve ever coached, I believe that the diversity of members and coaches are the key to this so cool and a different atmosphere. The word team is defined as “individuals coming together to accomplish a common goal.” We are united here in the matter of how talented people are, if they don’t work well together, they won’t accomplish much the cooperation and productivity are factors of success in our team. In our team all kids often gathering in circles to talk, lots of eye contact. The handshakes, fist bumps after every practice, everyone talks to everyone else (no one is excluded), lots of questions and the most fun aspect is lots of humor and laughter. In our team we see lots of little courtesies such as thank you, excuse me, and holding doors. Those details make a great atmosphere for us to coach, our coaches are very innovative people and tight together with a great attitude, all of them have a great sense of community what make us so great they treat everyone equally.

Junior and the rest of the 02 Performance Aquatics staff are dedicated to ensuring that all swimmers on their diverse team are able to achieve their full potential.

To manage the potential of swimmers I focus on the technical, physical and psychological aspects as a whole and sometimes I just have to follow my instinct. I try to motivate athletes and their work by motivating the mind and physical abilities to improve performance to train effectively. I like to implement appropriate teaching methods the most effective and reduce the risk of injury I enforce athletes to develop new skills all the time, and to develop the athlete’s energy systems. And time to time I like to evaluation tests to monitor training progress and predicting their performance. I list clear details in the seasonal and progression training plan, normally I look for some characteristics of the athlete’s profile, such as emotional control, good concentration, a lot of confidence and commitment. For me EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL. MATTERS! I give to my athletes every opportunity to improve as much as possible to help them to reach their full potential. They adapt gradually to the pressure imposed and adapt to the pace of training, from that point on I differentiate athletes with greater skills and mindset, giving them other opportunities to perform recognizing correctly their achievements.

No matter how experienced a coach is, there will always be struggles, and for Junior, those challenges can come from parents sometimes.

“Helicopter Parent” in old days and now the “Lawnmower Parent”, I think is the hardest challenge we face in our society and especially in our sport, they can be dangerous for the organization sometimes, over the years I had an opportunity to work with some extreme parent behavior you possibly can imagine.  When I face situations like this the first thing I do I to educate the parent, I bring them close to the organization. I give them the opportunity to lead some tasks on the team, I push them to become stroke and turn official. I know they have great intentions but maybe they don’t know how to help their child to develop into the sport.

Still, over the years, Junior has grown as a coach, something he reflected on.

I am OCD, and everything has to perfect and in the right place for me, all details have to be organized and on time, and working with people is very difficult to have this environment in your routine. Over the years of training, I think I have become more patient and I can rely more on delegating roles to others much more easily than before.

Every coach ends up with some great memories, and for many coaches, some of the most memorable moments can come from the small interactions with swimmers that occur out of the pool.

On one team, I trained in the past my assistant coach had the best  group of 8&+under, every the afternoon after training they used to stop at my office door to ask for treats. I used to have animal cracker bags, so I took a cracker and scissor, line up everyone on my door and I did cut a tiny piece of one cracker and divided between them. Was hilarious and so funny to see them every night come to me for those tiny piece holding with both hands. Those memories never did go away.

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Kari K

I don’t know if people realize how much Junior changed the face of this organization, which is by far the most diverse swim team around. When he started, the team was a wreck in so many ways thanks to the previous poor head “coach”. There was so much to get his arms wrapped around to turn it around. The kids and masters he has now work their tails off for him. The board is much more effective and he’s just created a much better environment all the way around. He’s worked so hard to make change and he and his coaching team have succeeded with O2. Way to go, y’all.

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