David Marsh: Sprint Man, King Maker

Rope climbing? In practice? Does it sound like fun?

It’s not.

We captured the video above at SwimMAC Carolina at the invitation of our friend, David Marsh, the team’s charismatic CEO and Director of Coaching, a man considered by many swimming analysts to be among the best coaches on earth.

Marsh, despite his 52 years and that short reddish coif of curls, still, somehow, looks like a 1980s male model.  Over the years, winning twelve NCAA Championship titles for the Auburn Tigers, developing superstars like Cesar Cielo, Fred Bousquet and Matt Targett, Marsh’s face has weathered a bit, but it’s one you can trust to lead you into swimming battle.

“Rope climbing,” he tells us, “is not fun. It hurts. Period. Once you lift yourself up out of the water that becomes very clear.”

Marsh has a unique philosophy coaching world-class swimmers, one that has attracted top sprinting talent to Charlotte, North Carolina’s SwimMAC super-team, like Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, World Champion Nick Thoman, NCAA Champion Josh Schneider, and American Recorder, Nick Brunelli.

“By the time you’re training under me, you’ve done your base work,” Marsh says, a matter of fact. “We don’t swim long distances. We do some conditioning, what I call maintenance and technique work. We sprint, and we build power and explosiveness.” Marsh grins,  “That’s why we climb ropes. And fast.”

Jones, Thoman, Schneider and Brunelli are big, and ripped, not an ounce of fat jiggling as they grip and throw themselves up the 26 feet of manila hemp fibers.

“It’s all about your power-to weight-ratio,” Marsh adds.  “If you can do this, climb the ropes like them, then your ratio is in check. You’re ready to race the big boys.”


He’s coached 24 Olympians from 11 countries.

His swimmers have won more than 100 international medals from the Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and the Goodwill Games.

He’s won 12 NCAA Championships Team titles.

His swimmers have won 89 individual NCAA Championship titles.

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7 years ago

david march is abest coach in the world

10 years ago

I’m glad my coahes never thought of this 20 years ago when I swam. It looks pretty tough.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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