Club Excellence Spotlight: Aquazot Swim Club
By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
In just its 14th year of existence, Aquazot Swim Club in Irvine, Calif. has already established itself as one of the top programs in Southern California, and the entire country, earning gold-medal recognition in this year’s Club Excellence program.
In 2004, Aquazot sent Kristen Caverly to the Athens Olympics in the 200m backstroke, the team’s first Olympic qualifier. Aquazot currently has one swimmer on the U.S. Junior National Team, Corey Okubo, who recently committed to attend Princeton next fall.
With a great pool, literally, of summer club talent to feed the team, a family-friendly atmosphere and a dedicated coaching staff, the team has quickly risen to the top ranks of the sport. Head coach Brian Pajer, who founded the team in 1999, offers his thoughts on what has made Aquazot so successful since its beginning.
1. Great Coaches. Each member of our experienced coaching staff is focused on helping their students learn, enjoy, and succeed in the sport of swimming each and every day. Our staff meets regularly to discuss new ideas for our program, and to find ways to better serve our members.
2. A consistent teaching model. We teach our coaches, and through them the athletes, a progressive teaching model that emphasizes technique first, and builds on the training component as each child advances through the program. We have made changes to this model as necessary to stay current with advances in the sport, and to keep the program fresh and interesting for the athletes.
3. Great parental and swimmer role models. Our new families have benefited greatly by the leadership of our core group of families and swimmers who have been with Aquazot for eight years or more. Each October, at the first meet of the fall season, we set up a mentor program, where our senior swimmers attend the meet to guide the 12-and-under Azot athletes through one day of the meet. This helps the new families and swimmers understand the USA Swimming meet process, and draws the whole Aquazot team closer together.
4. High expectations throughout our program. We want every Aquazot swimmer to dream big dreams, set high goals and expect success. We are located in an area with great schools, and high academic standards. We want every child to see the connection between academic and athletic success, and pursue each with equal confidence.
5. Great swimming summer leagues. Our area has a fantastic summer league network, which has done a great job introducing families to the sport of swimming, teaching early skills, and making it a fun, family-friendly experience. Children from these summer programs come to our team with solid skills, and a love of the sport. This gives us a head start over many USA Swimming programs around the country.