Competitor Coach of the Month: Ron Aitken

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.

Sandpipers of Nevada head coach Ron Aitken led his swimmers to a number of standout performances over the month of April, as they lit up both the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions (SMOC) and U.S. Open Water Nationals.

At the SMOC in Mission Viejo, Calif., Aitken led his star female trio to a combined seven event victories, with Katie Grimes and Claire Weinstein both winning three times and Bella Sims adding one win and three runner-up finishes.

Grimes, 17, swam a time of 4:31.81 in the women’s 400 IM to fall .03 shy of the girls’ 17-18 NAG and rank #2 in the world this year, and she also logged a best time of 1:57.85 in the 200 free, placing second to Sims (1:57.63).

Weinstein, who turned 16 on March 1, set four personal best times including the 800 free (8:25.95), while she also won the 400 free (4:06.70) and 200 back (2:14.89).

Among the highlights on the male side were the performances of 16-year-old Luke Ellis, who fired off lifetime bests in the 400 free (3:58.61), 800 free (8:06.34) and 1500 free (15:29.67). Ellis now ranks 27th all-time in the boys’ 15-16 age group in the 1500 and 31st in the 800 free.

Dillon Wright, 17, also had some standout swims for the Sandpipers, including setting new best times in the 200 fly (2:02.14) and 400 IM (4:26.67).

One week later, the Sandpipers were a fixture at the awards ceremonies at Open Water Nationals, highlighted by Grimes sweeping the women’s 5km and 10km events and Weinstein winning the girls’ 7.5km junior title and placing third in the 10km.

Ellis was sixth in the men’s 10km, Gabriel Manteufel was fourth in the boys’ junior 7.5km, and Sianna Savarda placed fourth for the Sandpipers in the girls’ junior 7.5km.

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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7 months ago

Also worth mentioning the development of Macky Hodges. Came out of Mission Viejo struggling time wise as a sprinter, and has became one of the top distance swimmers in just a couple months. Having never swam a 1500 to going 16:56 to 16:42 first and second attempts.

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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