Beyond hard work and dedication, there is one important ingredient that aspiring Olympic swimmers need in order to reach their ultimate goal: a dedicated and fully committed coach.
Team Santa Monica (TSM) set out to find this type of coach for its program and found him in Australia. His name is Dave Kelsheimer and he has been coaching TSM since September 2010.
“I’m an American and saw an opportunity to be able to come home and build a program that could develop world class swimmers right here in Santa Monica,” Kelsheimer said. “There’s never been a program like this in Santa Monica and Los Angeles that can train swimmers from a young age to become national qualifiers that are of an NCAA and Olympic caliber.”
Kelsheimer started coaching when he was in high school. Over the past 10 years he has coached at the YMCA, he was captain of his swim team in college, and the Cayman Islands National Team. His swimmers have competed at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan America Games, and the Olympic Games.
“We are very lucky to have a world class swim coach in our town to coach TSM,” said Frank Siering, who has a 12-year-old daughter training with the Junior Olympics Group. “He has not only changed our entire program for the better but the confidence of our swimmers has flourished. He has shown results in just a short time far beyond our expectations. It’s once in a life time that you even see a coach of Dave’s caliber, but the fact that we have managed to bring him to Santa Monica to work with our swimmers is tremendous good fortune.”
In the time that he has been coaching at TSM, the team went from having one Junior National Qualifier to having four. When he started they had four to eight kids swimming Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Now there are 25 to 30 training eight times a week, and 15 of them training 10 times a week. He makes it clear to the kids that it takes eight to 10 training sessions a week to become a high performance swimmer. His method of coaching is to convey clearly about what it takes to reach a certain level. Then it is up to the swimmer to decide if they want to reach their goal.
“I enjoy the challenge of helping kids meet their goals,” Kelsheimer said, “and I tell them if they’re willing to put in the time, then I’m willing to do what it takes to help them to achieve their goal. It might take some longer than others, but anyone can get there if they’re willing to put in the time. Usually what happens is that they either aren’t willing or they don’t have the time to give.”
TSM are building a top-level program with the guidance of Kelsheimer to help. There is a staff of coaches for instruction, physical therapists to extend their movement limitations, strength coaches for building muscles and massage therapists to help those muscles, recover. Kelsheimer said it’s all part of the long-term goal.
He wants to make Team Santa Monica a recognizable brand big enough to have 30 to 40 of its swimmers competing at National Championship meets.
On June 11 there were five TSM swimmers competing at the Open Water National Championships in Florida. Among a field of 103 swimmers that included NCAA and open senior athletes, some in their thirties, Jordan Wilimovsky, 17, finished seventh; Max Halson, 16, finished 11th; Brendan Casey, 14, finished 28th; Andrew Hacker, 17, finished Hacker 43rd and Kurtis Rossie, 16, finished 77th.
“It was a great showing for these young swimmers who had never raced in open waters before. They did very well against some big guns and it’s only going to get better for them,” Kelsheimer said.
A coach who believes so strongly in his program, and even stronger in the kids that train under him, can bring positive results.
“I want us to have multiple swimmers competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil,” Kelsheimer said.
Coach Kelsheimer truly believes that it can happen and he is dedicated to TSM.
TSM will be competing this Saturday June 18 at the 19th Annual Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands.