Coach talks about experience
The new head swim coach for Tabor College, Nathan Duell, and several members of the college’s swim team are in the midst of putting on a competitive swim clinic this week at the USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center in Marion.
With a break today, the clinic started on Monday and will continue through Friday with the purpose of refining swimmers’ techniques for summer competition.
Each day Duell and his team will focus on one of four strokes that swimmers compete in: freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke.
“We will be working on drills both inside and outside of the water that helps swimmers learn, improve or correct their strokes,” Duell said. “The drills can be used at any age. They are the sort of thing that keeps a swimmer efficient in the water.”
Duell said aquatics center director Heather Calhoun deserves a lot of the credit for setting up the event.
“The nexus of the project come together from a conversation Heather and I had when I came to look at the pool in preparation for the Tabor swim program that will start next fall,” Duell said.
This clinic could be the first of many public outreach events Duell and his swimmers will be involved in. Duell has offered to help Marion and Hillsboro summer swim programs with whatever they need.
“Anytime a higher level program wants to do better, they help cultivate younger athletes to build for the future to ensure the programs stay strong,” he said. “It’s better for me as a coach if more people are involved.”
In addition to his coaching duties, Duell said he feels that his purpose is to rally awareness, enthusiasm and help promote the popularity of the sport in the area as well as the rest of the state because he believes Kansas is an untapped swimming resource.
“I am looking forward to putting Kansas swimming on the map,” he said. “I want to make it as relevant as I can.”
Duell brings a lifetime of swimming experience to the pool. He started swimming as a “little guy” in 1979 while growing up in Goshen, Ind. He swam at the colligate level while attending Wheaton College, in a suburb of Chicago.
Almost immediately, after he graduated in 1994, he began coaching swimming clubs and eventually moved on to coach high school teams.
“Indiana swimming has a high level of competition,” he said.
With about 20 years of coaching experience, Duell said he has coached high school swimmers that went on to compete in college, some that qualified for Olympic trials, and swimmers that could barely finish a race.
He also won coach of the year for his conference in 2012 while coaching at Goshen High School.
Duell said the job opportunity at Tabor College was the primary attraction for his decision to move to Kansas because he had always wanted to coach at a collegiate level.
“It was an easy decision for me once I started talking to people here,” Duell said, “I saw that Tabor is dedicated to the students and noticed that they also have a growth mentality.”
Having coached a wide spectrum of athletes, his developmental appreciation translates into his coaching philosophy.
“The only guarantee I give kids is that they have no idea what their bodies can do,” Duell said. “They can always do more if they learn to push themselves to the next level.”
He believes that if he can get his swimmers to believe in themselves then they can achieve amazing things. To instill confidence in his swimmers, he said he tries to motivate his swimmers by staying positive, and reinforcing good habits.
“I tell kids, there are 7 billion people on this planet and only 2 percent of those people can do what you do even if you are not the best at it,” he said.
To Duell, in addition to winning, success for a swimmer is seeing you improve with time.
“I show the path but I try to stay out of the way,” Duell said. “Kids are going to get better with practice no matter what.”
He said swimming is for kids that are not “stereotypical” athletes: the ones that might not have the hand-eye coordination that sports like basketball and football require.
To him, however, a swim team is comparable to a wrestling team in the way that members practice together but perform as individuals during competition.
“I’ve coached individual swimmers and teams,” he said. “Coaching a team is more fun. Team members have a way of inspiring each other. When everybody else holds you accountable, you are going to work harder. You also get to celebrate your successes together as a team.”