Gregg Troy on Longevity, Racing and Athlete Development

Jeff Grace
by Jeff Grace 21

August 22nd, 2018 News

Gregg Troy has had a long and successful head coaching career. He spent 20 years at Bolles School where he coached swimmers such as David Zubero, Martin Lopez Zubero, Greg Burgess, Anthony Nesty, Gustavo Borges and Trina Jackson.

For the last 20 years he has lead the University of Florida to eight Southeastern Conference titles and in 2010, his women’s team won the NCAA national title. Some of the swimmers that have come through the Gators program include Elizabeth Beisel, Gemma Spofforth, Ryan Lochte and Caeleb Dressel.

Keys to Longevity

Coaching is not an easy job. For Troy there have been three keys to his longevity; environment, enjoyment and family, “You have to be in the right work environment,” says Troy. “You have to work with people you like working with. People that have a similar goal.”

“Enjoying what you are doing is key. I enjoy working with young people and watching them perform. Not necessarily just in the athletic environment, but also as people.”

Troy stresses that it is also very important to have support from those you are closest to, “Have a family that is understanding of the hours and the commitments.”

“When you put those things together I think you can stay with it for a long time,” explains Troy. “It keeps you young.”

Another aspect of the job that keeps him energized is being involved in high performance, “It is extremely exciting to be involved in high level performance regardless of what it is.”

Next season Troy will be moving on to work with a smaller group of athletes heading into the 2020 Olympic Games. He feels this is the right time to try something different. “I have some really unique individuals that are making a big commitment to Tokyo. I thought it was pretty important to make the same commitment.”

“It is the right time in my career to do something just a little bit different, something with a little bit more finesse.”

Becoming a Great Racer

Many of the athletes Troy has coached in his career have been incredible racers. He feels the first key is being fearless, “Great racers race with no fear. They realize there is an upside and a downside to racing. To be a great racer you have to understand that part of racing is losing.”

“I think it is a process of allowing them to enjoy racing, that it is something to look forward to.”

Keeping a big picture perspective is one of the ways to learn to race without fear. Troy draws a parallel between performances in golf and swimming, “Golf is pretty interesting. There are a whole group of guys who play well and play well often, but they play even better at the majors. So we have a few majors in swimming and sometimes people want to treat every weekend like it is a major and they aren’t all majors.”

“Sometimes I think that gets missed.”

Troy says there has to be a realization that no one is going to remember what you did at an in season meet they remember what you do at the majors, “There is a lot of stress in making every race the greatest swim when every race doesn’t have to be the greatest swim.”

“When they swim this summer in the US National Championships or the Pan Pacs whatever it is no one is going to care what happened at the Mel Zajac meet. I think that is really a key in racing because it allows you to race fearlessly at the beginning of the season and if it is not good it is not the end of the world.”

“It is important on the day that you do it, but it is not important in the scope of things.”

For athletes to become great racers a coach also has to make sure they learn how to perform consistently in difficult situations, “Try to put them in difficult positions in practice. In a training environment we look for difficult situations. If you can perform well when you are uncomfortable it relates well to performing in difficult situations at an international level.”

Troy also acknowledges that since being at Florida he has been fortunate to have the opportunity to recruit great racers, “I have had the good fortune in the last 20 years being at Florida where I could recruit great racers.”

Technique, Fun and Patience

For Troy when it comes to recruiting athletes he puts a great deal of stock into the environment they come from and who they work with. He feels age group coaches should have three major focuses; technique, fun and patience.

“Technique. The technical learning at a young age saves them from having to make corrections later on. Corrections later on are actually steps back.”

“It has to be fun. You are staring at a black line going back and forth, you have to find ways to make that fun.”

What ties it all together is having the patience to allow athletes to develop at their own pace. Troy points out that swimming and today’s society work in two very different ways, “Patience is key. We are very much in an instant gratification society in a delayed gratification sport. You have to be patient and understand it doesn’t have to happen right away.”

 

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25 free champ

He’s a legend. He’s coached so many elite level swimmers. Lochte, Beisel, Dressel… even Michael Andrew for a practice.

How much does CD bench

Need to start testing it by posting really uncontroversial things like “great article” and see what happens

25 free champ

Lol. Good idea. I will try it.

How much does CD bench

Why all the down votes?

25 free champ

Rumor has it that someone has created a down vote bot that down votes everything Bob and I post. IDK for sure though.

Dallas

Yes, we will remember that Caeleb did not meet expectations at the major meet this season and that Lochte did not even make it to the meet. I strongly disagree with Troy’s philosophy that only the “major” meets matter and are remembered. It is that kind of approach that allows Caeleb to go motorcycle riding in-season and for Lochte to mess up. Not that the individual problems of those swimmers are necessarily Troy’s fault, but maybe if some of the in-season meets were given more credence by Troy, perhaps there would be greater focus and some of these things would not happen.

Spectatorn

From spectators point of view, you could complain or argue all day that CD disappointed viewers by not producing WR or world leading times at Nationals or Pan Pac. However, that has nothing to do with what CD’s goal for this season or what matters to him or his long term plan in this delayed gratification sport. He did do enough to secure his spots for WC next year for the events he did at 2017 WC. Crashing motorcycle is a difficulty and he overcomes it as best as he can. Riding motorcycle is not a new thing for CD, but this got to show accident can happen even in familiar territory. I think he handled the situation pretty well… Read more »

Brit

In “delayed gratification” sport as you call it, Dressel sure did not seem to mind the attention when he won 7 gold in Budapest, then was extremely quick with lame and unsubstantiated motorcycle excuse upon Pan Pacs failure. I am sure his goals for Pan Pacs were a lot higher than his achievements there.

Skoorbnagol

What other meets matter then ?

Falcon

At Florida, it is SEC’s and NCAA’s.

Fly100

Olympics and Worlds too

Fly100

“Begin with the end in mind” …must have worked overall for many years. The results speak for themselves.

Tamlin

Well, the “end” was not that great for Dressel and Lochte this season, or for Beisel last season.

Canadian swammer

Or for Penny Oleksiak this past season.

Aquajosh

If you’re going to blame Troy for Lochte’s mistakes, you also have to give him credit for taking him from a champion in the 200 free who wasn’t an age group record breaker or highly recruited and turning him into the second-most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time.

JimSwim

I don’t think the end of summer 2018 was in any way shape or form an END for elite American swimmers. Lowest key year of the quad by light years

Pegasus523

Start the season here and we are 80% well educated for the new season! (The remaining 20% happens at ASCA 🧐🧐🧐

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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