What does a Swim Coach do?

Sheri Cyprus

A swim coach teaches people how to swim. Swim coaches may also be called swimming instructors. They have to stay up to date on first aid and pool safety training as well as meet qualifications set by government or other standards. The term coach is often used in describing a person who manages a swimming team rather than solely teaching lessons. For example, a high school swim coach works with a team in practices in the hopes of winning local and regional events against teams from other schools.

Swim coaches will prepare an individual or a team of swimmer for a competitive meet.
Swim coaches will prepare an individual or a team of swimmer for a competitive meet.

The competitive races between different teams are typically called swim meets. Medals are usually awarded to winners, with a trophy often going to the school who wins the most swim meets in a season. A swim coach must ensure his or her team competes fairly in all meets and events. He or she also makes sure to handle required details, such as entering the meet and arranging transportation for students.

Swim coaches help swimmers improve their stoke technique.
Swim coaches help swimmers improve their stoke technique.

A college swim coach's salary is typically much higher than his or her high school counterpart. For one thing, many college swim team coaches tend to be hired on a full-time basis, whereas a high school swimming coach may only work with students part-time after school, evenings and weekends. Both types of swim coaches usually appoint a team captain to help lead other members. While high school level coaches don't often bring in professional swimmers to help the team improve its strokes and techniques, college swim coaches usually do.

Since swim team members are also in school, many of whom are concerned with grades or other issues, trying to keep the swimming club together and organized is often a high pressure duty for coaches. Keeping the team competitive and able to win swim meets is another challenging part of a swim coach's job. Swimmers within the team may be at varied levels of competence and require different types of coaching. Using patience and tact is necessary for swim coaches, or they may find themselves face to face with angry parents.

Leading swim team members by motivation and inspiration should be a main goal of swimming coaches. Coaches work on personal and team development. They plan practices, drills or swimming exercises and other team events. High school swim coaches select members through a series of tryouts by students hoping to make the team. College coaches choose talented recruits from senior high school swim teams.

Most high school swim coaches also teach classes or work elsewhere in the school.
Most high school swim coaches also teach classes or work elsewhere in the school.

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Discussion Comments


My dad was a swim coach for his entire career. he started out on a high school swim team, bounced around to a few different schools and eventually got a job coaching at a mid sized university. He worked there for almost twenty years and retired about five years ago.

Not he does a little bit of coaching at a local swim club but that is only occasionally and he works with a lot of little kids. Mostly he is teaching them how to swim, not how to win a gold medal. But he likes to be around the pool and its great to see him inspire a new generation of swimmers.


I was on the swim team at a pretty large state university and we had a 5 person coaching staff.

Some of the coaches worked more with the guys some others more with the girls. Most of them had one or two strokes that they were considered to be specialists in. They were all former swimmers themselves.

I really became a much stronger swimmer under their direction. They helped me to develop power and endurance and also to swim more efficiently. A good coach can do wonders for an aspiring competitive swimmer.

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