SwimMAC Carolina: Building Champions In Life & In Swimming

Of the 2016 U.S. Olympic roster published yesterday, six swimmers have ties to the club of SwimMAC Carolina. Ryan Lochte, Cammile Adams, Anthony Ervin, Katie Meili, Kathleen Baker and Jimmy Feigen are all a part of the Charlotte-based club coached by ‘mad scientist’ David Marsh, with Ervin and Feigen having joined the squad just in the past year.

Not on the Olympic roster, but having also made Trials finals for SwimMAC Elite were 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 200m backstroke Tyler Clary and 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 50m freestyle Cullen Jones, as well as 2012 Olympic breaststroker Micah Lawrence, sprinting queen Madison Kennedy and butterfly finalist Tim Phillips.

With 13% of the U.S. Olympic roster originating from SwimMAC, it’s worth finding out how the club actually came about and what contributes to its success both domestically and internationally. With the motto “become champions in life and in swimming” in mind, take a look at Team USA’s video providing insight into what kicked off the creation of SwimMAC, as well as how the once-tiny club developed into the formidable force it is today.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
31 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
28 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

I’m wondering why Marsh & MAC elite get’s so much credit? Other than attracting some the nations top talent and them swimming poor to average, why do so many people think they’ve done such a great job? This post has NOTHING to do with their age group program, which proves year in and year out that they are the model which every swim club should try and emulate. They are kids and do a fantastic job representing their club, themselves and their families. Men at Trials Ryan Lochte – no best times at trials. Who left training with Troy and has gotten arguably worse each and every year since leaving. Cullen Jones – Didn’t make the team… and who was… Read more »


I don’t think Lochte going a best time should be the standard for a successful trials. Phelps hasn’t gone a best time in his major events since 2009 but that doesn’t make him unsuccessful or make Bowman a bad coach. And Feigen said himself in an interview after a recent Pro Swim Series that the reason he hasn’t aproached his 2013 worlds time is because he made some poor life decisions. That’s the reason he moved to SwimMac, to distance himself from the things that made him make those decisions and to have a sort of fresh start

Layne Staley

Absolutely correct.

Key word: recruiting. It’s the entire game.


Sure, recruitment is one part. But did you miss the part in the video where he talks about how its ‘lonely at the top?’ These days we are seeing swimmers with longer and longer careers and there is a lot of experimentation going on to accommodate that. Should they stay around youngins’ and that will help them stay fast, or will it burn them out? Put them around other elites of their age group so that they are happy (isn’t that what is best for our pro swimmers?), and therefore swim fast? Hard to say. Age isn’t on the side of Marsh’s group anyway, so maybe that explains the performances.


I’m getting sick and tired of swim Mac advertising. David Marsh does nothing but recruit great swimmers and put them into retirement. I don’t get this swim Mac bandwagon nonsense. After the men’s 200 free Marsh was in deep thoughts when Lochte and Clary didn’t make it. But for Lochte’s 200 IM he was on the pool deck acting as if he was the best coach in the world. Give all the swimmers to Urbancheck and it would be a different story. Work works and talk sells.

swim dawg

one thing is almost for sure. Lochte would have gotten further into that 4IM on the first day before dying if he had been training at UF still. Also, there is a good chance Jimmy went so fast in 2013 because of the training he did at Texas in 2012. 4×100 free relay choices for prelims and finals will be interesting in RIO. Sure felt like Marsh got his way with Lochte on the finals spot over Matt or Jimmy in London.

Captain Ahab

Hate night news


BOB- Thanks for pointing out the elephant in the room. I’ll add that not one swimmer has ever come up through the MAC age group program and gone on to be “Elite”. If anyone can name one, please prove me wrong. Everyone you listed became good at another club or college program and many were paid to join MAC. Baker was going 1:02 when she was 12 yrs old and was recruited by Marsh to make a switch. Yes, she made the Olympic Team, but she has also only dropped a whopping 1 second in the last three years! Meili swam well, give her credit. But if only one swimmer in your program is doing well, it’s probably in spite… Read more »

MAC Alumni

Ricky Berens

A swim fan

Matthew Josa trains with Team Elite and came through the age group program (see video)


Josa switched to MAC at the age of 15 when he was getting fast at another team in Charlotte. Check the USA Times database…And thank you MAC Alum for proving my point. Ricky Berens is the only example anyone can think of in the last 20 years? I think we can all agree that Eddie Reese and Urbs get the credit for that success!


Ricky Berens, Mel Stewart, and Jilen Siroky.

Jilen made the ’96 Olympic team at age 14, but I guess her future college coach would get all the credit…


Mel Stewart swam under Frankie Bell.. he only swam with MAC during the summer’s when he was in college.

Tucson swim parent

I don’t know where Nick Thoman is currently training, but over a year ago (Feb 2015), Thoman announced that he was moving to Tucson to train at Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics.


At the time, my kids swam on that team and I regularly saw him practicing at the UofA pool (which Ford uses as its practice location).

Also, although Thoman was with Swim Mac before, but Swim Mac’s “Team Elite” roster website does not list him –> http://swimmaccarolina.org/team-elite-roster


Retired a while back.


Well said. I dont believe the hype either. I think the Center of Excellence started this trend w Marsh and swim Mac, but i too am unimpressed with the results. You forgot to mention Madison kennedy who was faster at grand prixs in 50. I think a few others w swim mac werent stellar either.


She was faster at trials in the 50.


Let’s throw out personal bests, let’s just look trials to trials. 12 Trials to 16 trials, Jones, Adams, Lochte, slower in all events. Ervin (after 1 month at SwimMac) was faster, as was Adrian, Ervin trained at Cal over 10 of the last 12 months. Baker swam well, 5 of 12 last months at SwimMac, Melli, seems to be the team’s only real success. In comparison, Phelps was faster in the 100 fly, not the 2 fly or 2 IM… Didn’t need to be! http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/db5ca371-82f4-4443-b9e4-6cbd8e96178f/National%20Junior%20Team%202015-2016.pdf It does appear to be success through recruiting, not a systemic process. Currently, SwimMac does not have one swimmer or coach on the Junior National Team, sad for such a large team, almost 900 strong.… Read more »

Steve Nolan

They had a lot of success in 2012 too, yes? That’s what started the publicity wave, I think. Can’t just discredit that completely.


Man you guys are a tough crowd lol. OK sure the video maybe makes it look like that Swim Mac produced their elite team. But what I took from it is that Swim Mac is growing the sport of swimming in their community and that is a positive thing. That’s what Marsh and MAC elite get credit for here. Cos you know, the more kids that get into swimming and STAY in swimming is a good thing for us – no matter what club they start in or what college they swim for, or where they swim post-grad. I’m pretty optimistic that in time Swim Mac will eventually produce high level swimmers similar to what NBAC has done. Also, as… Read more »


What about the importance of team elite demonstrations during the middle of a championship meet at SWIM MAC’s pool while there is a long “timing system problem”? Never seen that type of recruiting done at another meet.


People don’t believe it when they hear these stories but they are totally true. Exhibition swims at MAC hosted meets. Handing out MAC tattoos and team info to other local teams. Obscene!


Also, as far as I know there is no magic coaching/club formula for producing and sustaining elite swimmers so I dunno what y’all are on about.

Yes – the magic is hard work & more hard work. Isn’t part of coaching motivating to get people to work hard. Not to convince them that they can come be a part of your program, work less and fix a few technique things to get them to break world records?


huh? must have missed that selling point in the video….


This is probably going to get a lot of down votes. From the outside looking in. Criticizing this team is just laughable. “Lots of their swimmers were slower at trials.” Yeah – and lots of their swimmers are old. Older swimmers don’t go best times regularly, even when fully prepared. Cullen Jones wasn’t even thought as a contender this year, but was prepared at trials and got pretty close. Lochte was injured and is old, still made it for 3 events, Kennedy didn’t make it but was 3rd and was pretty darn fast. Tyler Clary, old. Lawrence, another swimmer who didn’t make it but was very close in the 200. Then it seemed like the rest of their swimmers did… Read more »


I swim for SwimMac in the age group division and the senior division is basically split up into 3 different groups. The fast kids that went to Trials train with the elite team often. Also, remember that a lot of the swimmers that’s finish age group and swim into college get burnt out easily, because they have been swimming for years at this point (I will be a senior in high school and I have been swimming since I was 8 at Mac and I am planning on swimming in college). Also, when all these college kids go to Trials and crush Olympians, you shouldn’t be too surprised. They are a little over half the age of the older swimmers… Read more »


Nobody is here talking down age group program, main point Marsh is full off hot air, especially when he was doing all the reports on changing Lochte’s technique, the guy is world record holder , its like pointing out Greg Troy done bad job with him, now Lochte in 2 events instead of 7 in previous Olympics. Ryan use to swim meets 200 free tired 1.51 .. ,then at sectionals go 1.49 ,3 weeks later 1.44. He swam all year around 1.48 “tired” , then he rests and goes 1.46.7 But he is on swimswam more then any other coach and working a the camera all the time. US has way more productive coaches ,but they Swimmers are talking (with… Read more »


SCCoach- Being on the West Coast your view is from afar, at National meets. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, take a closer look. The judgment is as much in how fast their pros swim but in how they recruit kids from other clubs and claim them to be Swim Mac’ers. How would you feel if every time you had a kid score at Sectionals or JO’s, you had a coach from a large club giving them a high five behind the blocks and inviting them to “come try a practice”? The larger the age group program, the more funds at their disposal to recruit the big fish from colleges, paying them to fly the MAC colors and join… Read more »


As someone who works in financials at SwimMAC, you seem to have a wildly exaggerated view of how the program ( a non-profit) is funded and the current state of the club


I am viewing from afar, but again I have seen coach Marsh at conferences, seen his swimmers at meets (not just the elite group), and have watched coach Marsh’s technique videos.

Does the high fiving kids from other teams really happen? Have you witnessed that.

I coach in an area where there is a lot of team jumping, but if I saw a coach high five my swimmer and then recruit them, I’d lose my mind.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

Read More »