Follow coach Rachel Stratton-Mills’ yearlong club tour leading up to 2016 Olympic Trials

With just under a year left until the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, one swim coach is taking a tour across America to see a wide view of America’s Swim Team in the lead up to America’s biggest swim meet.

Former Asphalt Green coach Rachel Stratton-Mills and her husband, 1980 Olympic qualifier Glenn Mills, are already a couple months into a nationwide tour of USA Swimming swim clubs, a tour that will span the country and finish at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

“My husband and I have been dreaming of doing this for 20 years,” Stratton-Mills told SwimSwam. “We plan on seeing what’s going on in the grassroots and seeing what club across America are doing for their swimmers.”

Stratton-Mills said she sees the tour as a major learning opportunity – a chance to pick up ideas, methods and more from a wide range of swim coaches in a wide range of environments.

“I look at it as a yearlong sabbatical,” she said. “In coaching, we don’t often get that sabbatical period to just learn.”

The couple kicked off their tour about two months ago, starting on the east coast, and have now made their way to the midwest.

The early stages of the tour were in Maryland and eventually stretched to Philadelphia (including Great Philadelphia Aquatic Club, where Stratton-Mills got to observe the training of national champion breaststroker Brendan McHugh, among others).

Lately, the journey has swung through the midwest, with stops at the Academy Bullets of Illinois, Wisconsin’s Ozaukee Aquatics (home to Short Course Worlds team member Katie Drabot and Paralympic star Tom Miazga) and Minnesota’s Aquajets (high school training ground for Olympian Rachel Bootsma, among others).

But Stratton-Mills says the tour isn’t just about seeing the highest-profile clubs and athletes – though that’s certainly a draw – but seeing a wide range of clubs of varying sizes and levels.

“We feel really lucky to get to see these elite athletes, but we’re really trying to see all sides of the sport,” Stratton-Mills said.

The tour will hit a majority of states in the U.S. by it’s conclusion, Stratton-Mills says, and should provide the couple a wealth of knowledge and experience when it concludes. Stratton-Mills plans to get back into coaching after the 2016 Trials, hoping to put her new-found knowledge to work.

“After this year, I’m hoping to really know what I want in a program,” she said.

For now, though, Stratton-Mills is enjoying the ride, taking in the experience at each club on its own terms.

“I’ve been coaching for a good amount of years,” she said, “but there’s nothing like being really immersed in a team.”

You can follow Stratton-Mills and Mills on their journey through the couple’s blog, which tracks their experiences in written, video and photographic form. You can find that blog here.

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Swim Coach
5 years ago

They absolutely must see Greater Omaha Aquatic Club in Omaha Nebraska coached by Tom Beck. Absolutely phenomenal coach, he has done a great job developing swimmers in a place historically not known for producing great swimmers. Has continually put swimmers onto some of the best collegiate programs in the country. Not sure if this comment will be seen by Rachel and Glenn, but just a suggestion!

Reply to  Swim Coach
5 years ago

Hey Swim Coach,

Pretty sure they’re on the list. I guess you could call that the grand finale… but we were talking when this all began back in Nebraska while Rachel and I were there for a clinic.

We’ll see you next June!
(Party at the RV!!!)


Paul Reeder
5 years ago

Rachel and Glenn have so much to give to these swimming communities. Fantastic opportunity to be coached by this team. I want to recognize Glenn not as an “Olympic qualifier”, but and a 1980 Olympian. Might be just semantics, worth noting.

5 years ago

Great people and excellent coaches.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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