You coach a team of unique student athletes; each have different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Every year about a quarter of them move on, and you have to relearn, recruit, and reteach a new team. Prospective student-athletes must mesh with the current squad. And it can feel like putting together a puzzle where the pieces are constantly either changing or going missing.
On top of all that, there’s that whole ‘personal life’ thing. Let’s face it, coaching is a demanding job in itself, let alone recruiting. There has to be a way to contact prospective athletes wherever you may be, except not so intense that it takes up all your time, or overwhelms the athlete—a simple place to meet for a casual conversation about what they need, and if/how your school can provide it for them.
In short, coaching can be a demanding job. However, considering the amount of time coaches spend with their athletes, it’s an influential job as well, especially at the club level.
After all, athletes join club teams at young ages, often learning from the same pool of coaches for years. In fact, it’s not unheard of for an athlete to join a team at the age of five and look up to the same head coach until they’re eighteen (even if they don’t directly swim for that coach until they’re in high school). And even if these club coaches haven’t trained these athletes since they were five, then they’ve likely coached them in some capacity for years.
In other words, club coaches know what their swimmers are capable of. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and not just athletically. They know their swimmer’s psychology. They know what will inspire them, and they know what the kinds of adversity will stress them. They know their swimmer’s academic interests: what kinds of classes they like, what kinds of hobbies they have, what kinds of films and books and music they care about. If there’s anyone who’s in a good position to recommend a college, it’s a swimmer’s club coach.