Swim Club coach talks about new role

| 14/02/2013

smile.JPG(Stingray Swim Club):  Stingray Swim Club has confirmed Coach Andy Copley as its Head Coach. Copley brings a wealth of coaching experience to Stingray Swim Club having worked previously with small, growing clubs – like Stingray (SSC) – and ranked junior swimmers – like Cayman’s up and coming Alex McCallum. The former Head Coach and Founder of the Santa Monica YMCA Swim Team in Santa Monica, California; Copley coached the team to two California Swim League titles in back to back years (2009-2010).

He was then hired by Team Santa Monica in 2011 under former Cayman National Team Coach Dave Kelsheimer; was named to the Southern California Swimming All-Star Coaching Staff in 2012 and has coached Top-10 ranked athletes in the United States, while assisting Kelsheimer in the coaching of Junior National Champions, Junior National Record Holders and Olympic Trials qualifiers from Australia and the United States.

Before training one afternoon at the Lions Aquatic Club, Copley spent some of his free time talking about his move to the Cayman Island; about who he is and what motivates him day in and day out to get up at 4am for training sessions:

How did you hear about Cayman Swimming?
When I worked at Team Santa Monica, I worked under Head Coach Dave Kelsheimer who was the original Coach of Stingray Swim Club. He and Dominic Ross, along with Paula Swaby and other coaches, built Stingray and Cayman Swimming into a powerhouse in the Caribbean. Back in March of 2012 Dave gave me the opportunity to come to Cayman to assist the Department of Sports with a temporary coaching shortage at the Lions Pool in the lead up to CARIFTA 2012. I spent four days here and instantly fell in love with it. It was a tough decision to leave my friends, family and swimmers back in Santa Monica, but it has been worth every minute.
What is your philosophy on coaching?
Philosophy is basic. Timing is everything! It's important to build strong foundations of technique, speed and a deep-rooted love for the sport so that when a swimmer's time comes, they are able to take off and perform at a high level. I often see kids who get into their high-intensity training too early, or are pushed into being something they're not ready to be. Personally, it's my goal to see that the swimmers I coach are ready physically and mentally for the challenges that come along with a career in swimming.
What are your plans for the near future?
The near future is here and there is a new energy at the Lions Pool. When I was here over the summer I expected it to be a temporary basis, helping to fill the gap. If I'm honest, when I showed up this team seemed a little weary. It's been a 180 degree turn since then – the kids are starting to swim fast … they’re still tired … but for different reasons! It's fun.
Where do you see Stingray Swim Club going during your time as Head Coach?
Oh man, it's hard to say because I don't want to put a ceiling on what can be done. These kids are roaring to life right in front of my eyes. But I suppose the ultimate goal while I'm here is to lay a foundation for successful, fast swimming and create a culture of excellence. The club is growing right now and I am optimistic that we are on the right track!
What are you personal goals for the team?
You want me to reveal my goals? No chance! But it's pretty simple in this sport, and it's something I tell people I work with everywhere I've been. Your competition is getting faster, so you have to get faster, faster than they get faster.
What about Stingray and Cayman excites you? Why this job?
Again in all honesty, when I first moved here to help out, I had a couple moments where I thought to myself, "What on Earth am I doing here?" But by the end of last summer I began to see the spark in the swimmers and in the families. The opportunity to rekindle that fire and rebuild a program with so much rich history over the last 17 years is one that is hard to pass up. It's been an honour and a privilege to be here working with these kids who, in my eyes, have made the turn around of the century. And c'mon, it's the Cayman Islands. I'm from Montana. It's 5 degrees in Montana right now…
What, in your eyes, needs to change here for swimming to be as successful as it once was?
Attitude and intensity. I hear "I can't do that" a lot … getting the kids to believe they can achieve their goals has been a massive effort and is still a work in progress. As far as training goes, they just need to get used to a much higher intensity. Most of them are there. Some are still coming along and finding out what it feels like. The ability to push yourself to the point of complete exhaustion, then get up and do it five more times… it's not easy … it takes enormous mental toughness. We're getting there.

And with that the interview was over. Swimmers had started pre-training stretching and Coach Andy Copley has a workout to post. He puts his trademark straw hat on … “time to go talk to the water… fire up a little zen action” … he flashes a hollywood grin, and then it is all business as he and his swimmers get ready to talk to the water for the next two hours.

For more information on Stingray Swim Club or for the Pete Ribbins Memorial Consolidated Water CARIFTA Trials meet summons and event list visit Stingray Swim Club’s website: www.caymanswimming.com .

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We're very happy to have such a great coach. Thanks for the hard work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful story ! Coach Andy's outlook and philosophy are refreshing and exciting.  Best wishes to him and his team, as he helps take them to greater heights!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Best coach I've ever had! Congrats Coach Andy! 🙂