As all eyes focus on the 2012 Olympics in London, we sat down with YMCA of the Triangle (YOTA) Swim Coach Chad Onken.
|YOTA Head Coach Chad Onken|
After all, nine of his former and current Y swimmers qualified to compete in the Olympic Time Trials. Former YOTA Swimmer Charlie Houchin will swim alongside Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps in a quest for a gold medal in the 800 Free Relay.
What do you say to a young swimmer who wants to be the next Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte or Charlie Houchin?
Focus on your own development in the water. It's not a race against other people in your event. Our goal is to help our athletes eliminate their weaknesses and expand their own strengths.
Nine YOTA athletes qualified for the Olympic Time Trials. Can you put that in perspective?
Not every team in the country had athletes at this meet -it's quite a privilege to have one swimmer at Olympic Trials. Keep in mind, in 2000, YOTA didn't have a qualifier. In 2004, we had one. In 2008, we had a small group of former YOTA swimmers at the meet, but none representing YOTA. We are blessed to have nine athletes who qualified for this year’s event.
What is the recipe for YOTA success in the pool?
It really is a team effort. First, I credit the culture of the YMCA. We have a
team-first focus that has created a family atmosphere. We work hard on the long-term development of our athletes. Our coaches are ridiculously talented. They really are the best coaching staff in North Carolina. It also helps that we have great athletes who are very goal-oriented. They simply get the job done.
The success of the YOTA Swim Team makes spectators wonder if there is something special in the water.
I wish it were that easy. I'm proud of the YOTA organization and everyone who is involved with what we do. I'm even more excited for the 2016, 2020 and 2024 Olympics. I feel confident that the YMCA will be sending even more athletes!
This summer has been amazing for the YOTA Swim Team. How proud are you?
Outside of the actual Olympic Games, the Olympic Time Trials in Omaha was the largest stage for our sport. It was amazing to have so many YOTA athletes represent us there. Many of these athletes have been swimming with the Y since they were very young. It makes me feel good about the YOTA program and what we’re doing.