The Viking travels a lot. Working a crazy schedule full of teaching, coaching, LSC General Chair duties, and the occasional raiding of random villages in the name of Odin makes it hard to fit in time to swim. So I do what most excellence-junkie middle-aged guys who can’t survive without swimming laps do: I email coaches all over and ask if I can jump in on their practices while I am in town.
As a guy who wears so many hats in swimming, I really enjoy getting to see how teams run their practices, to see the interactions among teammates, and to have conversations with so many smart coaches. After a few years of this I decided to share some of the experience with the SwimSwam audience. Basically, when I invade a practice, I want to give viewers a chance to get to know the teams I visit as every team has aspects that make them unique.
In Missouri, it is pretty common to see multiple teams all sharing one Head Coach. (My AD thinks swim coaches are insane.) In Columbia, Zach Mertens leads Hickman, Rockbridge and Battle High Schools. Columbia schools have had tremendous success at the state level in recent years, with Hickman taking fifth and Rockbridge winning the title at the 2016 MSHSAA Championship. I will let Coach Mertens and some of his girls fill you in on how that works. Rather than taking away from the attention that the athletes get from their shared coaching staff, it appears that working out and competing together can enhance the team experience for everyone involved.