While swimming around the world still looks a lot different than normal due to the effects of COVID-19, we’re still highlighting and celebrating swim teams from across the country. This month, we’re taking a closer at SwimAtlanta, a year-round USA Swimming club based out of Atlanta, GA. Founded over forty years ago, SwimAtlanta serves the Atlanta area by providing everything from learn-to-swim instruction to specialized training for some of the top club athletes in the nation. Consisting of roughly 2000 swimmers across seven locations, SwimAtlanta is a perennial USA Swimming gold medal team that last year ranked #11 across the nation in the Club Excellence program.
SwimAtlanta alumni including Olympians like Hans Dersch, Doug Gjertsen, Kathleen Hersey, Eric Shanteau, and Amanda Weir. The team continues to produce swimmers who shine on the national, college and international levels, including 2019 World Junior Championships gold medalist and 4:06 500 freestyler Jake Magahey and blue-chip prospects like Jack Aikins and Sebastien Sergile.
Coach Chris Davis was one of the founders of SwimAtlanta back in 1977, and he still leads the club over 40 years later. We spoke with Chris to help readers get a sense of what makes Swim Atlanta special, as well as some of his reflection on over four decades on the pool deck.
Despite being a large, multi-site group, the SwimAtlanta coaches focus on the individual, something that’s reflected in Davis’ explanation of his coaching philosophy.
To make the sport fun for the athlete and to help each individual understand their potential as a swimmer. Additionally to create a road map for them to follow should they choose to realize that potential.
By keeping the focus on the individual, SwimAtlanta’s coaches are able to help swimmers develop both in and out of the pool.
It is my firm belief that in order to help the athlete to become a future leader you have to at all times hold them accountable. Their responsibility to the commitment they have made to themselves their teammates and the team are incredible learning experiences. They have to earn their times their respect from their teammates and the coaching staff. I think it is a gradual process but by enduring the highs and lows of the swimming journey your arrow points more towards being a leader.
At the same time, Davis points to SwimAtlanta’s ability to come together as a team as something that makes its team chemistry special
SwimAtlanta is unique as we train out of seven locations. So in many ways we are like seven different programs sharing ideas, training sets and experiences to the benefit of the whole team. This allows each location to contribute what they can to enhance the final team product. Competitive within the team but cohesive when we go to a meet as a team.
With over 40 years in the sport, Davis has had his share of struggles and successes.
My biggest struggle as a coach is to balance the business side of a SwimAtlanta with the coaching side. We have north of 100 employees 2000 swimmers and close to 20 thousand sets of lessons a year. Obviously with all of that a great deal of my day is spent on the business side of things. I have to physically close my door shut the business side off and change hats to my coaching one. This is when I usually write my workout for the day. This helps get my mind turned around to the coaching side of what I do. Truly the kids do not care what kind of problems I have had to solve before the start of practice. Nor should they. At that point they expect my undivided attention to help them toward whatever goal they have set for that season. So the balance of wearing two hats business and coaching and balancing both is my biggest challenge.
The challenges are worth it, though, as Davis has plenty of great memories to choose from when asked about his favorite one.
Having coached at Swimatlanta for close to 43 years there are so many amazing memories. Probably my three favorite are in no particular order. 1. 1985 when we won our first Junior National Championship. I think it validated us as a viable program. 2. When Hans Dersch made the Olympic Team in 1992. Hans was a home grown swimmer that started in our clinics for summer league swimmers and rose all the way to become an Olympian 3. When Amanda Weir made the Olympic team in 2004 and trumped that with an American record in 2006.
SwimAtlanta is one of 3,000 swim clubs in the United States. How can we grow that number and promote the sport?
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Originally posted on SwimSwam.com. Click here to Read More.