Competitor Coach of the Month: Jason Walter

Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

Coming up on 13 years as the head coach of Lakeside Aquatic Club, Jason Walter and his swimmers have perenially been a force to be reckoned with on the U.S. club scene, and that was on full display at the Winter Junior Championships – West in December.

Spearheading that effort was burgeoning age group star Maximus Williamson, who aligned with Walter at Lakeside in 2022 after coming over from the North Texas Nadadores.

The 17-year-old Williamson set new boys’ 17-18 National Age Group Records in both the 200 free and 200 IM, resetting the mark in the latter twice and breaking a 12-year-old record in the former.

In the 800 free relay on the opening night of competition, Williamson led Lakeside off in 1:32.00, breaking Maxime Rooney‘s 2017 NAG record of 1:32.18 in the 200 free, and he was followed by Cooper Lucas (1:33.57), Max Hatcher (1:36.91), and River Paulk (1:37.86) as the quartet shattered both the 15-18 and 17-18 NAG records in the 800 free relay in a time of 6:20.34.

The same four swimmers set the previous 15-18 record at the 2022 Winter Juniors in a time of 6:22.78, while the previous 17-18 mark belonged to the Carmel Swim Club from 2019.

Williamson followed up by bringing the 200 free NAG record down to 1:31.37 in the individual race, and in the 200 IM, he blasted a time of 1:41.18 to erase David Nolan‘s standard of 1:41.39 established back in 2011.

Williamson also won the 100 free (41.99) and placed second in the 50 free (19.57) and 200 breast (1:55.16), setting new best times in all three.

In the 50 free, he actually set his PB in the 200 free relay, leading off in 19.46 to combine with Paulk, Lucas and Jack Hernandez en route to winning the event.

Lakeside also won the 200 medley relay to go along with the record-setting 800 free relay effort, helping propel them to the boys’ team title in Westmont.

The 200 free relay featured Williamson, Paulk, Lucas and Hernandez, while the medley ream consisted of Williamson, Lucas, Riccardo Osio and Paulk.

Lucas led the team in individual points, winning the 500 free, 200 fly and 400 IM, placing second in the 200 free and 200 IM, and fifth in the 100 free.

In addition to the boys’ title, Lakeside also won the combined team race at the West meet, with Avery Collins leading the women’s team with top-eight finishes in the 200 breast, 400 IM and 200 IM.

The girls’ team also delivered top-eight finishes in three of the relays, taking fifth in the 400 medley, seventh in the 800 free and eighth in the 400 free. Kennedi SouthernNatalie SchneiderOlivia ColomboEmma BibzaElla McWhorterEllen GarritsonElise CliftLily Andruss and Collins contributed to those efforts.

Walter, who was named Lakeside’s head coach in February 2011 after a four-year stint as the team’s lead age group coach, has been recognized for his success with appointments from USA Swimming, including leading the National Junior Team Camp in April and serving on the staff at the 2023 World Junior Championships.

About Competitor Swim

Since 1960, Competitor Swim® has been the leader in the production of racing lanes and other swim products for competitions around the world. Competitor lane lines have been used in countless NCAA Championships, as well as 10 of the past 13 Olympic Games. Molded and assembled using U.S. – made components, Competitor lane lines are durable, easy to set up and are sold through distributors and dealers worldwide.

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3 months ago

I thought Dan Balint was Williamson’s coach?

Michael Isaac
4 months ago

Congratulations Jason on the success your teams are having this season! You are the man!!

Jason Vandever
4 months ago

Agree completely. He’s terrible at fantasy football

Jason Vandever
4 months ago

Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. Horrible at fantasy football

GULF Coach
4 months ago

Great coach, really good guy…but a HORRIBLE Fantasy Football Manager!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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