Club Excellence Spotlight: Nashville Aquatic Club
By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
Since the mid 1970s, Nashville Aquatic Club has churned out several dozen Olympic Trials qualifiers, 15 National Junior Team members, seven national champions and four US Olympians, including one of the greatest female swimmers in US history, Tracy Caulkins. Nine international Olympians have also called Nashville Aquatic Club home at some point during their career. The team’s continued commitment to success has earned them gold-medal recognition in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program dating back to at least 2005.
Head coach John Morse has been with the team for 30 years and has seen the team blossom into a group of 325 swimmers and two practice sites, one of which is named after their most recognized alumni, Tracy Caulkins. Morse discusses what alumni like Caulkins have meant to the program and other keys to success in this week’s Club Excellence Spotlight.
1. A long tradition of fast swimming and working hard to reach potential. The team was formed in 1975. Back in the 1970s, we had people like Tracy Caulkins who were world champions and came out of our program. A lot of the swimmers from the 80s now have grown children swimming in the program. Tracy stops by about every other year and stays involved. There’s definitely a continuing thread.
2. A consistent and professional coaching staff that runs the wet side of the program and focuses on long-term development. I’ve been here for 30 years as head coach, and we have multiple full-time coaches, so coaching is their profession. We’re constantly looking at the long-term development of the athletes, and all of the things that are important to the development of the athlete are conveyed on the website.
3. A very strong parent organization that provides support to the program by running great meets and also overseeing the dry side of the operation – everything from training fees, financial liability, social activities, the things that make it fun for the kids. They also handle and file tax forms – anything and everything that’s required to make the team function and keep the burden off the coaching staff.
4. We coach every swimmer on the team, and we focus on all of the strokes and all of the distances. We’re not a program that just produces distance swimmers or sprinters. We want to make sure we focus on every event and also interact with every athlete regardless of their ability level.
5. We set high performance and effort expectations and we’re constantly evaluating what we’re doing in pursuit of a better way.