10 Swim Coach Stereotypes – What Type Is Your Coach?

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join his weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.

Swim coaches are a different breed. They work long, thankless hours, often times having to balance their coaching duties with another job. They coach because they love the sport, and we love them right back.

Here are 10 different swim coaches that we see on our local pool decks:

1. Big Data. The math and data prodigy. Has numbers, stats, and splits for everything from your turn velocity, warm-up stroke rate, and even how much of a NW breeze there is in the facility. This coach is pretty much a certified space scientist and spreadsheet wizard.

2. The Coach/Athlete. Refuses to believe that his own career has peaked. Does all of the dry land with his athletes, privately believes he could probably out-swim most of his senior swimmers still if he didn’t have those two mortgages, another baby on the way, and at least two full seasons of Walking Dead to catch up on.

3. Destro. Quiet, analytical, and moderately unapproachable. Swimmers fear him because of his reserved nature, but his quiet stare does all the talking necessary. The following statement tends to destroy far more than any red-faced screaming ever could—“I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”

4. The Gipper. Pep speech before every workout. Before main sets. Before pre-main sets. Before warm-up. Before stretching. Sometimes you’ll get a motivational quote or 6 via text while you are in class. Can generally be found watching Rudy in his office before practice.

5. The Technical. This coach is a magician when it comes to technique. Can catch the small areas of your stroke that you are leaking torque, and often will throw 7-8 different corrections at you at once. This can sometimes result in a swimmer getting so caught up in trying to make all the changes that they forget how to swim.

6. Back in My Day. The water was hotter, the lane lines skinnier, there was no tapering, and yes, everyone had to walk 20 miles to practice…in the snow, uphill. Both ways. Is convinced that swimmers these days are so much softer than they were in the good ole days and will seize upon any gripe or complaint to remind you.

7. The Perfectionist. Workouts are to be done in a very detailed and specific manner. Any deviation results in the entire squad having to redo the set. “Guess what, guys? We are going to redo the 10×400 IM’s because Lil Johnny picked his head up gliding into the final wall.”

8. The Fourier Equation. The workouts that this well-meaning coach scribbles up on the whiteboard are so elaborate, so layered with brackets, parentheses, braces and angle brackets that swimmers find themselves stopping every 50m and 100m to solve, err, remember the set.

9. The Crossword Puzzle. Once all the swimmers are in the water this coach pulls out the newspaper and gets to work on the crosswords, only ever looking up in the event of a fire alarm. Some swimmers will take advantage of this by hiding in the far end of the pool, hide in the rafters, or getting out and taking a 25 minute shower.

10. Bobby Knight. Yelling, screaming, and a heaping spoonful of more yelling. Looking for your water bottle? He punted it into the dive tank after you missed an interval. You would be more inclined to follow his instructions if you weren’t also dodging the spittle coming at you from all corners of his mouth. You also know that when he falls silent to duck under the water, because someone is getting a kick board thrown at them.

Any other coaches you can think of that grace our pool decks? Let’s hear them in the comments below!

Originally published Feb, 2016


Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.

Conquer the Pool Mental Training Book for SwimmersHe’s also the author of the recently published mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High Performance Mindset.

It combines sport psychology research, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians past and present to give swimmers everything they need to conquer the mental side of the sport.

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I don’t see exactly me up there. But I guess I’m a little of all of them. It just depends on the situation.


I know of a CROSSWORD PUZZLE who has produced Olympic Gold Medalists, achieving National and International coaching recognition. His secret? Great assistants for young age groupers. This coach would write a workout (admittedly a difficult one) on the board and go sit in his office for the entire practice. On the phone, I guess (this was before the days when everyone had computers). His most decorated swimmer was once a mediocre 12& under until a fantastic, brilliant assistant coach got a hold of him and turned him into a NAG record holder as a 14&under. This talented assistant must have had personal issues, because at one point he was living in his car. As far as I know, this assistant… Read more »



Narwhall Mister

My coach is 4, 5 and 6. You also left out those coaches who scares the crp out of everybody at the pool because he yells “GO!” So loudly.


Just replace Bobby Knight with Gregg Troy


And #6 with Jack Bauerle


I was thinking the same thing!


Also could be titled “A list of stereo-types you should avoid becoming.”


Aren’t there any positive stereotypes? Author seems to be a little bitter about or jealous of good coaches.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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