SwimSwam Podcast: How TAC Titans Develops Their Top-Level Talent

On SwimSwam Podcast, we’re giving you an in-depth listen at all things swimming. Host Coleman Hodges welcomes guests and guest co-hosts alike to get perspective on our ever-changing swimming universe and break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

We sat down with Bruce Marchionda, head coach at the club that has been producing a lot of top-level talent recently, the TAC Titans. He talked with us about developing athletes during his time at Clemson, Western Kentucky (including 2012 Olympic champion Claire Donohue), and now at TAC Titans, where he works with athletes such as national teamers Claire Curzan and Charlotte Hook.

Music: Otis McDonald
www.otismacmusic.com

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Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

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Turbo
21 days ago

They recruit them from other teams. There i just saved you 30 minutes.

Jealous Much?
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

This is an old argument that is rather tired! This has been the fastest rising team in the country the past several years! They do not approach anyone to join the team. Instead, top swimmers who want to get even better want to experience the tremendous coaching and facilities that the Titans have to offer! The younger age groups dominate even more than the senior groups. You will continue to see some of the top swimmers in the country develop each year and if that makes other kids want to be part of the hard work and fun…so be it!

Swimmer
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

Exactly. All of these swimmers were already top tier before being coached by Bruce. Curzan was a nag record holder before switching to tac and all the others were star age groupers too

swimapologist
Reply to  Swimmer
21 days ago

Ok then ask yourself this: why did they leave? They thought that TAC coaches could take them to the next level, because they’ve coached Olympians? TAC coaches have certainly proven themselves capable of that. Because TAC runs a cleaner business and was able to get the pool time away from the other teams? Swim teams are businesses, if you can’t both coach and run a successful business, then hand the keys to someone else. You all think that you’re making TAC look bad. But all I sit here and see is a bunch of clubs that, for one reason or another, couldn’t compete, and would rather point fingers than learn how to do better. Same crap that used to go… Read more »

WSCoach
Reply to  swimapologist
21 days ago

They leave for reduced training fees.

Rookie
Reply to  WSCoach
21 days ago

How common is it to subsidize swimmers on performance? Do many other clubs do it?

Ponder
Reply to  WSCoach
21 days ago

Ermm if you have a daughter/son say,like curzan, who already was fast and nag holder before she moved, would you switch to a lesser team with incapable coach for reduced training fee?

HeadTimer
Reply to  WSCoach
21 days ago

Here’s the info. Don’t know of any other team that does this, at least in NC.

  • Junior Nationals individual qualifier receives a scholarship equal to 30% of their monthly dues and an apparel package based on the TITANS apparel sponsor. 
  • Senior Nationals individual qualifier receives a scholarship equal to 60% of their monthly dues and an apparel package based on the TITANS apparel sponsor.
WSCoach
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
20 days ago

I think because it gives the illusion that those swimmers were developed by their program.

HeadTimer
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
20 days ago

Because it’s unethical… and most teams don’t have the money? Look, TAC monetizes many things, including volunteering. We know a family where the swimmer left the team, and they were still charged the monthly tuition fee. Later, TAC charged the family a fine for not volunteering at meets where the kid didn’t even swim as the kid was no longer at TAC. Is it even “volunteering” if you’re not doing it voluntarily?

AnExasperatedCoach
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
20 days ago

I’m confused why people are confused by the ethics of this method? The way I see this, it incentivizes parents to switch teams once their child gets “good”. It causes a few things to happen. First Let’s talk about basic economics: It draws talent from the area by creating a monopoly by undercutting the prices of all teams in the area. This is unethical by the way because it doesn’t grow the sport. It also creates a positive feed back loop which artificially raises the average ability of the team thus making the team look good and further attracting talent to the team which then draws more people due to relays and carpools. Since they have gained a large number… Read more »

HeadTimer
Reply to  AnExasperatedCoach
20 days ago

Exactly.

Stinky
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

Swimmers aren’t recruited by the tac titans. They go there because it’s one of the best programs in the country.

Last edited 21 days ago by Stinky
NCSwimmer103
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

I don’t think there is anything special about their program. It’s just a better facility and they can lure the top swimmers in that area because of that.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

I’m genuinely curious how this process works. Recruiting a 12 year old. Do they lure them with cookies and throw them in the pool and say you are swimming here now?

I’ve been accused of recruiting age group swimmers. I’ve had really fast swimmers leave my team to join another. I’ve never recruited a kid or caught a coach “recruit” a little kid.

So if this actually happens, please explain to me what you saw or heard and explain to me the recruiting process

WSCoach
Reply to  SCCOACH
21 days ago

A coach talks to the swimmer and their family. A coach offers them what is in essence a scholarship. It’s fairly simple. The more protected way is coaches asking families/swimmers to reach out to a particular swimmer on their behalf.

SCCOACH
Reply to  WSCoach
21 days ago

And you’ve seen coaches do this with 12 year olds and their families?

WSCoach
Reply to  SCCOACH
21 days ago

Yes.

Sarah
Reply to  Turbo
21 days ago

TAC doesn’t have to recruit! If you live in the area and you’re paying attention, it’s clear they have the best facility and coaches. We moved our son from another area team to TAC. No one recruited him. Several families followed us to TAC a year later. Did we recruit them or were they recruited by TAC? Not at all. If these families followed our son’s progress on Meet Mobile or SwimmingRank, it was clear that TAC helped him go from B/BB times to A/AA/AAA times. They get results that many swimmers are looking for. Practice is never canceled due to weather. You get your money’s worth. It’s really that simple.

Anonymous
Reply to  Sarah
21 days ago

The point of recruiting is to get fast recruits. Swimmers with B/BB times are not recruited.

Sounds like you guys chose tac for good reason- and I have no issue with that- but there’s really no relation to recruiting

Swimmer
Reply to  Sarah
21 days ago

Tac has the best facility by far, but coaches are no higher than on par with the other competition.

swimapologist
Reply to  Swimmer
21 days ago

Name another coach on the competition that coached an athlete when he or she won an Olympic gold medal. Are there any? I know the RSA coach was at NOVA when Townley Haas was there, but I don’t get the impression from his bio that he coach Townley in the senior ranks, and he certainly wasn’t Townley’s coach when he won an Olympic gold medal.

Who are the other ‘competition’? Any of them have Olympic gold medalist on their resume?

Jim
Reply to  swimapologist
21 days ago

Bob bowman nbac

swimapologist
Reply to  Jim
20 days ago

1) Bob Bowman is no longer at NBAC
2) When we were talking “competition” I’m pretty sure that everyone is referring to “competition for swimmers in the local area.” But, maybe I’m wrong.

WSCoach
Reply to  swimapologist
20 days ago

A gold medal athlete is not the standard to be a good coach or to be better than another.

swimapologist
Reply to  WSCoach
20 days ago

HMMM well please tell us your standards. Make sure they’re as vague and immeasurable as possible, things like “connects well with athletes” and “fosters a cohesive environment for training.” The less measurable they are, the more we can ignore things like “won the North Carolina Short Course Age Group Champs with 50% more points than the runners-up from SwimMAC.” Oh, but I’m sure they only won that because they gave all of those 14 & unders who are Junior Nationals and Nationals qualifiers a discount, right? They must have a ton of those. And definitely don’t include “they won Sectionals by nearly doubling the score of the next closest team, MOR.” Definitely don’t include a coach’s experience, like being on… Read more »

Anonymous
21 days ago

As a swimmer at the second meet they had. On the other team that was there. The swimmers from TAC were not social distancing during warm up. He said that they have been trying three in a lane one at each end. That is false they all stared at the same side. I have a picture as well.

Thingsthatmakeyougohmmmmmm
Reply to  Anonymous
20 days ago

Isn’t that a Safe Sport violation to have a camera on deck taking pictures of minors at a swim meet?

Admin
Reply to  Thingsthatmakeyougohmmmmmm
20 days ago

No, it is not.

The USA Swimming Code of Conduct only makes mention of photography and video recording as it relates to changing areas, rest rooms, or locker rooms. As ‘deck changes’ are no longer allowed, this does not include “on deck.”

Clubs or meet hosts can have more restrictive guidelines of their own. Those guidelines would not rise to the level of “Safe Sport violation,” though the guidelines are sort of under the SafeSport umbrella. I don’t know what the TAC policies were for this meet.

Anonymous
21 days ago

I can confirm the other commenter. Live in the raleigh area and as an age group swimmer during the creation of Tac I watched it unfold. Here’s what I saw and heard. 1. In creating their team, Tac kicked two extremely well established year round teams out of the aquatic center, forcing them to find new pools on short notice. They did this by skyrocketing lane prices and claiming the majority of lanes for their new swim team. 2. As the team developed, multiple stories came out about Tac coaches openly recruiting swimmers from the two (decimated) teams as well as some others in the area. Claire came from one. 4. Now that Tac is a well entrenched team, I… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  Anonymous
21 days ago

The North Carolina club swimming community never ceases to amaze me with their passion for attacking the ‘top dog.’

For years, they were hellbent on taking down SwimMAC. Now, the hordes have moved on to TAC. I’m sure once TAC is no longer the top dog, everyone will go after the new club.

Anonymous
Reply to  Braden Keith
21 days ago

Maybe you’re right. In the end, raleigh specifically is becoming a great place to swim regardless of inter-team dynamics.

Last edited 21 days ago by Anonymous
NC Fan
Reply to  Braden Keith
21 days ago

Though, if you know North Carolina, Braden, you’ll know that the Triangle does hate comparisons to the Charlotte area that makes the two areas seem similar. As one of the other commenters said, TAC knew how to build a business. That’s a pretty big distinction from MAC which knew how to build great swimming but kinda failed at the business side. As with many businesses TAC did it with sharp elbows and at the direct expense of other local clubs that had been treating it as a collegial rather than dog-eat-dog business. But hey, that’s just business. TAC has great water and a great facility (other than bad bleachers) and they made the most of it. Yes, they make it… Read more »

Rookie
Reply to  NC Fan
21 days ago

Those bleachers really do stink. Did they ever begin work to redo them or start the new outdoor pool?

NCSwimmer103
Reply to  Braden Keith
21 days ago
I could only think of one reason why these "top dogs" are always being targeted.  Its in their DNAs that they implemented a tactic to purge competitions.  We have already discussed how TAC kicked the other 2 teams from their facility.  As far as SwimMAC is concerned, here is the reference to swimswam article - (https://swimswam.com/swimmac-signs-5-4-million-rental-agreement-with-huntersville-facility/)
Fair business decision or a dirty tactic to get the fastest swimmers from the displaced teams?
HeadTimer
Reply to  Braden Keith
21 days ago

Many from the Triangle area have stories about TAC. From the start, they have acted like the rules don’t apply to them.They continue to do what they want, no wonder which team they hurt or which rules they bend or break. Now that they are successful, the media is fawning all over them. Pardon us if we don’t. If you cared to investigate it, you could learn more about why other swim folks aren’t more positive about them. (Feel free to message me or comment here if you’d like to know more.) Do a podcast about MOR (also very successful and original team of Justin Ress, among others) and I guarantee you won’t get these kinds of comments.

Rookie
Reply to  Braden Keith
20 days ago

Well, it is the Triangle – home to UNC, Duke, and NC State, who all hate each other. So, you could say they come by it naturally.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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