Three-hour practices, dryland training, more yardage, and intensive attention to technique and form are just a few of the changes enacted by Mountain View High School’s new varsity swim coach, Alex Hehir. Hehir’s goal is to create a culture on deck where each athlete is individually motivated to train their bodies and their minds to their fullest potential, in order to become better swimmers. According to Hehir, this will be attained with full commitment and investment from both the coaches and the athletes.
As the coach, Hehir vows to develop the swimmer’s will to work hard by using different coaching methods to accommodate to the individual and conditioning the athletes both physically and mentally. From the athletes he asks determination, hard work, effort, and the willingness to be coached.
“It’s [going to be]a lot different from last year. We don’t expect to see immediate morphing on the first day or even the first year to how we want to run the program. This first season is a lot about changing the mentality of the athletes and how they go into sets, how they go in to practice, and how they concentrate and focus through practice,” Hehir said.
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Since the beginning of the season, Hehir informed athletes of his expectations for practice and games. Hehir values setting expectations at the beginning of the season and maintaining them in order for the swimmers to be aware of the commitment they are making and the discipline required of them to improve.
To reach this goal, Hehir expects athletes to take full advantage of the mental conditioning, additional hour of practice time, dryland (exercise out of the pool), yardage and intense swim sets. This will help balance and strengthen their muscles and willpower to train at the level necessary to achieve their goals. Hehir draws this knowledge from personal experience of swimming on a swim team with a winning culture.
Hehir attended Bellarmine College Preparatory and swam on the swim team. Bellarmine, an all-boys private school, has held the consecutive title of League Champions for boys swimming from 1967 through 2014, and has won 22 CCS (Central Coast Section) championships from 1991 to 2014. From his experience swimming during high school, Hehir incorporates aspects into his coaching such as a standard for athletic performance and coach accommodation to each individual athlete.
“[You must] be able to know how far you can push a kid and be able to push them [in]the correct way, because every single athlete is different. Some kids respond differently to different kinds of coaching styles so you have to adjust for each athlete if you want to get the most out of each one,” Hehir said.
Not only does this encourage more effort from the athlete, it also helps them reveal and develop their character. With this information, Hehir hopes to inspire each swimmer to become more self motivated.
Hehir said, “Coaches can do as much as motivate an athlete but if the kid doesn’t want it, if they don’t have the will to go farther than they have ever before, then they’re not going to be able to break the barriers and get consistent record-breaking times, personal best times, or just get stronger in general.”
As swim season begins and swimmers begin their training, Hehir plans to lead his team to victory. Whether his strategies will yield results, the scoreboard will tell.