By Kelsey Reese//USA Swimming Communications Intern
Editor’s Note: Every Friday, usaswimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know” featuring some of the best age group and grassroots coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you ASCA’s Indiana 2012 Age Group Coach of the Year, Ian Murray.
Ian Murray grew up swimming in Ohio and then swam in college at Cleveland State University. Murray has been coaching for over 13 years and is currently the Head Age Group Coach for Carmel Swim Club.
At Carmel Swim Club, Murray’s swimmers have experienced great success. The age group program has won nine of the last 11 Indiana Age Group State Championships and the age group swimmers have set eight new Indiana Swimming Association records, as well as broken eight Indiana Age Group State Meet records.
When did you first begin swimming?
I first started swimming when I was seven-years-old with the summer league team and then eventually for a YMCA team. Originally I’m from Cleveland, Ohio, swimming is pretty popular there; living in Indiana now, it’s actually just as popular if not more popular here.
My dad was a competitive swimmer growing up, and my brother and sister swam. My dad coached at the YMCA for many years and a lot of the kids that I grew up with in my neighborhood were going to the swim club anyway. I grew up around the pool watching my brother and sister swim, going to their events and their college meets. They are both significantly older than I am; my sister is 10 years older and my brother is 13 years older than me. Watching them swim in college just became a part of my life from an early age.
When did you get your first coaching job?
I started coaching in August of 2000—just after Olympic Trials—at the club team that I was swimming with in the summers, the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins.
The coach there who is one of my mentors, Jerry Holtrey, had one of his athletes, Diana Munz, qualify for the Games—she went on to win a silver medal in the 400 and a gold in the free relay. At the time, I was finishing up my eligibility and he needed somebody to run the national group while he was gone so he asked me to do it. I had never really thought about getting involved in coaching before so I was like, “Okay, I’ll do it for some extra money.” I think it was maybe ten days of being on deck and I was sold; it just immediately became my passion.
What is one of your most memorable moments from coaching?
That’s tough, there are so many from a performance side. Last summer, I had a 13-year-old girl named Claire Adams who was top 30 at Olympic trials in the 100 backstroke; that was pretty exciting! For being such a young age and her first opportunity there, it was good to share that experience with her and watch her go through that process.
For me though, watching kids go best times and watching them win events or qualify for big meets is exciting. I’m at the age now where a lot of the athletes that I first started coaching are coming back from graduating from college or they’re moving on to law school or medical school and they enjoy sharing that success with me. These are really my biggest moments now, seeing how swimming helps them for their entire life.
Who has been most influential on your swimming experience?
Jerry Holtrey, who got me involved in coaching, he is still coaching for the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins in Ohio and is probably my biggest mentor. I was pretty fortunate because I was young, eager, and willing to do anything I could to learn and to grow, and he was willing to let me. I had a lot of experience going to national meets at the very beginning of my coaching career and I got to be on deck. At those meets I would try to be a human sponge and find all the big name coaches and basically hang around them and try to pick up any pieces of information that I could.
Coaching here at Carmel, our Head Coach, Chris Plumb has been a big mentor to me and helped me grow as a coach and a person. Thirdly, I have a very good relationship with Jason Turcotte at Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
What advice do you have for other coaches?
I think for young coaches you have to be willing to pay your dues but find a place where you can learn a lot in a short amount of time and be willing to do a lot of work. I would encourage people to go out and find one of the big name coaches and try to be on deck with that person as much as possible for two or three years and squeeze as much information out of them as possible. You’re not going to make a lot of money in the process but what you’re going to gain is priceless and would help you so much more when it’s your turn to step up and take a larger role in coaching. What’s great about USA Swimming is that most coaches are open to that, people have open doors and say, “Come on in, I’ll help you do whatever you want to do.” I think that’s what helps make us the best swimming country in the world.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
First and foremost I believe in long-term development. I’m not interested in watching people swim amazing at 10 or 12 years old and having that be the pinnacle of their career. I’ve been fortunate where I’ve coached both senior and age group for a long period of time. Now I’m primarily focused on senior athletes and people that are swimming at the junior national level but long-term development is where it’s at for me.
I believe that kids should be given a good technical foundation in all four strokes. I believe in a strong aerobic base for age group kids so that it allows them to have specialization later on in their swimming career. I think in this day and age, having good functional movement on land is important because we’re dealing with so many kids that aren’t getting the same level of physical fitness that I got as a swimmer growing up, or kids who aren’t outside playing as much. I’m a big proponent of programs that provide good functional movement and teach kids not just about the sport of swimming but about being an athlete in general.