The Almaden Riptide is a year-round club team based in San Jose, California. Despite being just five years old, the team has grown rapidly as it trains all levels of swimmers while focusing on fostering a sense of community and a dedicated pursuit of excellence.
Head coach Kyle Kikuta founded the Riptide in the fall of 2013 after realizing that, with three high schools and six summer swim teams in the area, there was still plenty of demand for club swimming in the area. With a strong group of parent volunteers backing the effort and the support of local communities and friendly coaches, Kikuta was able to overcome some early challenges in securing pool time, and since then, the Riptide has seen steady growth and progress.
After starting with an initial group of roughly 40 swimmers, the Riptide today has approximately 120 swimmers and many of the original core families and parent volunteers are still a crucial part of the team today.
Being a newer team has given the coaching staff a chance to start from scratch, and they’re constantly looking to learn “what works and doesn’t work, and learning from other successful teams and being able to try out some of those things that worked for them,” as Coach Kyle put it. “Also, being so small and fairly new, it’s really exciting to see the improvement of the swimmers as well as the team.”
One of those improving swimmers is high school senior Sammie Keith, who recently announced her commitment to Fresno State, making her the very first Riptide swimmer to make a commitment to a Division I swim program. Additionally, the team has recently had swimmers qualify for meet big meets like Sectionals and Futures, as well attend the Olympic Training Center Distance Camp, not to mention consistently being one of the top three medium-sized teams at Zones.
I think one of the things that makes our team special is that our swimmers have a great working relationship with all of our coaches. We’ve created a community where our coaching staff knows all of our swimmers by name, and they have fun together at practice, socials, travel meets, and participating in team activities. I also personally know many of the parents and have worked with their kids for most of their high school careers. It’s been great watching these swimmers develop and continue to be successful year after year.”
– Head Coach Kyle Kikuta
Like every team, Riptide has its team traditions, some of which are pretty common to swim teams, and some of which may a little more unique. They don’t have any particularly favorite sets, but the team does enjoy holiday-themed workouts, especially Halloween practice and a Star Wars workout on May 4th every year (as we all know, everything is more fun when lightsabers are involved).
The Riptide swimmers also do your normal swim team bonding activities: travel trips, group dinners, family pancake breakfasts, and the occasional round of cookies and hot chocolate after practice. Some of the team bonding activities may be a little more particular to Riptide, such as the Super Smash Brothers tournament at the annual holiday party, featuring senior swimmers squaring off against, or even partnering with, some of the younger age group swimmers.
Only five years into its existence, the Almaden Riptide’s dedication to focusing on their swimmers’ development in and out of the pool has them poised to make a splash in the San Jose area and beyond.
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