Summer season is almost underway and, as we move into these exciting months, SwimTopia recognizes some young swimmers might be embracing a new role, that of Junior Coach, Assistant Coach, or Coach. Junior coaches are typically middle to high school age athletes that may still participate in summer swim but also help instruct younger age groups. Some high school and college athletes often have enough experience to achieve an active coaching position.
These new roles certainly lend themselves to extra leadership within the team, but they can also provide so much more for young athletes. Assistant coaching roles are excellent resumé boosters, highlighting the ability to collaborate, lead, organize, empathize, and manage time. Further, breaking down swim strokes for younger swimmers allows athletes to develop a deeper understanding of their own mechanics. Becoming a coach might just make our junior/assistant coaches better swimmers themselves!
SwimTopia interviewed local Austin coach, Ivy Claflin, to learn about her experience in summer league as well as her transition to summer swim coach. Ivy is a year-round developmental coach at Austin Swim Club (ASC) and a graduate student at Auburn University, on her way to earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Q: Could you give us an understanding of your background in swimming?
A: Of course! I grew up in El Paso, Texas and started summer league swimming at age 3. I moved into year-round club swimming at 7 and continued to swim for my high school and club teams until 18. After I graduated from high school, I swam 4 years for Trinity University in San Antonio. I’m now a master’s swimmer at ASC about once a week!
Q: I know it was a long time ago, but what do you remember most fondly about summer swim team?
A: I just remember it being so dang fun! Those evening meets with all the parents at the pool having a good time were the best. It was not so much about the swimming, but about having fun. Less emphasis on sport and more about the experience. Great, family-friendly environment.
Q: When did you transition to the role of summer swim coach? What do you remember most fondly about being a summer swim coach?
A: I started summer swim coaching after my first year of college with the Fighting Frogs! It was so awesome connecting with kids, building relationships with them and their parents. I got to share my love for the sport and teach youngsters the super important skill of swimming. I all-around absolutely loved it.
Q: Was there anything challenging about transitioning from swimmer to coach?
A: Most challenging thing, honestly, was that I was still a collegiate athlete and wasn’t able to train the same way I might have done if I wasn’t coaching. I would try to swim a bit after our last swim practice of the day, but it was definitely challenging. I focused more on being a good coach, connecting with swimmers, and building their confidence/swim skills [rather than my own training].
Q: Do you have any advice for new junior coaches or swimmers transitioning to the coach role this summer?
A: Honestly I would say this- if you are a high-performing athlete or used to high-performance, simplify everything. Cut instructions down to their most simple form and you’ll be successful!
We appreciate Ivy taking the time to chat with us and wish the best of luck to both swimmers and coaches (and those acting as both!) this year as we move into summer swim season 2022!