“What got you here won’t get you there” is a common phrase you hear when climbing in your profession. And it’s no different for collegiate swim coaches. Gary Taylor is proving that out, in a positive way, at Auburn University.
Coach Taylor was introduced just under two years ago at Auburn and a few were a little unsure how a “distance coach” would help one of the best sprinting programs in collegiate history get back on track. (A topic Gary actually addressed in his opening press conference.) And if you want to dive into how successful Gary has been with distance swimmers read about the 3×[email protected]:30 set that helped created an NCAA champion.
Not only was Coach Taylor having to shake off suspicion by some that he couldn’t led a historically based sprint program back to prominence, he was also walking in the footsteps of coaching legends.
Between those three coaches you have a total of 40 national championships. So, to say the least you better be able to produce, and under pressure as a coach at Auburn University.
How did Coach Taylor approach his first head coaching position that’s led to success?
While being interviewed by Chris Ritter for The Hive powered by RITTER, Coach Taylor talks about what he’s learned from his mentors like Dennis Dale, Kelly Kremer, Jason Turcotte, Neil Harper and Braden Holloway to name a few. One of the biggest takeaways for Coach Taylor has been seeing what a leader looks like and he’s had many successful coaches to emulate.
One of the lessons Coach Taylor referred to in that clip was about how it’s actually a good thing for assistants and head coaches to have disagreements. To let the best idea win. At his last stop, as an assistant at NC State, he was immersed in that staff culture and also obviously witness to a great sprint program.
Everyone understands that to win conference and NCAA titles you need a strong sprint program. So, after receiving the reins at Auburn, Coach Taylor made some critical hiring decisions. Deciding to have Gideon Louw and Duncan Sherrard lead the sprint group.
Louw had personal experience as a swimmer with the sprinting tradition and had proved his chops as a coach leading sprinters as well. Sherrard was also a successful swimmer himself and at his most recent stop prior to Auburn, had coached an athlete that broke the ACC record in the 50 Free.
When the Auburn women destroyed their own school record (only a year old too) and posted the 2nd-fastest time ever in the 200 yard freestyle relay it shouldn’t be surprising.
Coach Taylor knew Auburn wouldn’t rise on his coaching skill set alone, even though he’s a great coach. That’s the biggest challenge new head coaches face – how to maximize your individual skill set but also assemble the best staff and let the best ideas win.
Don’t be surprised as Auburn’s success will definitely continue under Coach Taylor’s leadership and the rest of the great coaching staff he has built.
If you want to learn more about how Coach Taylor and others have become successful in their first head coaching positions be sure to Join The Hive to learn more.
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