**Currently working in Naples, Italy -- returning stateside spring 2019**
Swimming was always "my sport." I dog-paddled my way onto the Superfish in the early 1980's and fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, my family moved quite a bit, and I wound up leaving the sport long before I was ready. It wasn't until I was an adult with my own children entering the local swimming program and becoming increasingly competitive that I even realized I had actually been really good at it (my 50 free time from the mid-80s is still a AA time by today's USAS standards).
When getting involved with our local teams, I felt it was always my job to be where the team needed me. In some cases, this meant holding a timer, in other cases, it meant making and serving food. From there, I worked as a Clerk of Course, a stroke & turn official, a starter, a ref, and eventually a coach. Moving across the ocean to Naples, Italy put us in a strange position -- the local club team environment was not compatible with what USAS goals for age-group swimming. The clubs here are known to specialize early and only work with the fastest -- little attention is paid to technique after a certain level and it becomes all about the times. I've watched swimmers from France, the US, Canada and Greece grow frustrated with the local club environment and erode their love for the sport.
We joined the Naples Tiger Sharks,, a European Forces Swim League team, on the US Navy base here. This league is more of a recreational-style league, but we have a good number of very competitive swimmers. Due to the nature of our environment, we usually don't have swimmers with us for more than three years, as such our ability to truly grow swimmers from beginner to national levels is limited. That doesn't mean we don't do our best to maximize every swimmer's abilities.
The Tiger Sharks is committed to promoting a love of swimming, and building swimmers with solid technique and the skills each child needs to reach their fullest potential. This program has developed swimmers from beginner all the way to NCAA recruiting. Each year, we have swimmers who achieve A, AA and AAA times, and more than 50% of our swimmers achieve at least one BB time each season (this season may be higher). We may not always have the best talent, but we do have some of the hardest workers in our league -- and it shows through 12 consecutive Division Titles.
I'd like to take what I've learned here, and work to build a program when we return stateside. I want to continue to learn from some of the best coaches the U.S. has to offer, as well as taking various continuing education courses through ASCA. I hope to work alongside coaches who strive to be their very best in order to inspire more swimmers to do their very best -- while making a lifetime of wonderful memories in and around the pool.