Courtesy of Trevor Ziegler
For this installment of Coach Confidential, I spoke with Florida Southern College Men’s and Women’s Head Coach Duncan Sherrard. The Moccasins are a Division II program located in Lakeland, Florida and compete in the Sunshine State Conference. In the six years Coach Sherrard has been at the helm, the Mocs have blossomed into one of the top Division II programs in the country. At a young swimming program that has only been around since the 2003-2004 season, Coach Sherrard has led Florida Southern to 4 straight top-10 finishes at Division II NCAA’s (men and women). Swimmers under Duncan Sherrard have achieved numerous All-American Honors, Conference Champion and National Champion swims. Sherrard has also won the SSC Coach of the Year honors in multiple seasons.
A native Floridian, Coach Sherrard’s achievements as a high school athlete earned him a walk-on spot at the University of Florida. During his time as a Gator, Sherrard earned All-American Honors, set a school record, and was an SEC Champion in the 200 IM. After graduating from Florida in 2002, Sherrard held coaching positions at Bucholz High School and Indian River Community College, before accepting the position at Florida Southern.
Here is what the successful young coach had to offer on this week’s Coach Confidential:
First dual meet opponent as a head coach?
What was your major in college?
What was the last book you read?
Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson
What would you consider to be the key to becoming a successful student-athlete?
Balance and dedication
Favorite dryland activity?
What has been your most memorable swimming moment as a head coach?
Hard to say. There are so many great memories; from championships to graduations. We just had two former athletes get married. That was really special.
What is your favorite set to give your swimmers?
I really don’t have one. I like to keep them on their toes with different things. The main thing I have them do is to race and swim fast in practice.
Most embarrassing coaching moment?
When our Men’s 400 Medley won an NCAA Title in 2011. I went flying out of the stands like a mad man celebrating.
What has been the most valuable piece of information you’ve learned from coaching?
These are someone’s kids, so treat them like I would want my own children treated.
Describe your relationship with swimming growing up:
We always swam and played other sports but I started competitive swimming really late. I joined a team the summer I turned 13. From that point on, I was a swimmer.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a coach?
My first summer league job after I graduated from college. I fell in love with teaching the sport and watching the athletes grow.
Favorite/most useful drill you have your swimmers do?
We mix it up a lot so it is hard to say. Fly-Triple Kick / Backstroke-Spin Drill / Breast-3k/1p / Free-3/4 Drill
Describe your coaching philosophy in 3 words:
Lead / Coach / Inspire
As a spectator (or coach), who has been your favorite swimmer to watch (any level)?
Growing up it was Anthony Nesty (who ended up coaching me at the University of Florida). Now, it is really all swimmers. I enjoy watching all athletes to see how they do things because none of my athletes are the same.
Are there any individuals who have directly-influenced your coaching style?
Frank Bradley – Head Coach at Florida State / Gregg Troy – Head Coach at UF /
Anthony Nesty – Associate Head Coach at UF / Martyn Wilby – Associate Head Coach at UF
Rocco Aceto – Head Coach at Trinity Prep Aquatics
Where would you be if you hadn’t become a coach?
Probably practicing Law somewhere.
What are you commonly doing when you are not fulfilling your coaching duties?
Spending as much time with my family as I can.
What would you consider a “fun” practice?
Anything that involves swimming fast
Favorite inspirational quote?
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” -Muhammad Ali
Do you follow any sports other than swimming?
Football / Soccer
Do you go into a season knowing the type of team atmosphere you want to cultivate, or do you take a more adaptive approach in creating team culture?
I know what my end goal is but every team and year is different, so they are handled differently.
What has been your favorite “toy” to use with your swimmers during practice (useful or dud)?
Sponges – for the resistance.
Trevor Ziegler is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he also swam for the Minutemen. In addition to being well-immersed in the swimming world, Trevor is also a self-proclaimed pop culture aficionado. He spends most of his time brainstorming how he can write about both his favorite bands/tv shows and swimming in one coherent article.