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They didn’t win the gold, but a pair of Seward Tsunami Swim Club coaches got a share of the silver when the American Swimming Mentors Association bestowed its coach of the year award Thursday.
Meghan O’Leary and Sol D’Amico were among the finalists for the George Haines Coach of the Year Endowment, which went to Gregg Troy, who helped guide Caeleb Dressel to five gold medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics.
Three other directs were also in the running for the award.
O’Leary and D’Amico earned their nomination for their work with Seward teenager Lydia Jacoby, who won the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and swam a leg on the U.S. chicks’s silver-medal medley relay team in Tokyo.
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O’Leary and D’Amico watched Jacoby’s triumphs at watch parties in Seward, where Jacoby began swimming as a little girl.
Seward’s no greater than pool measures 25 meters, half the length of an Olympic-sized pool. In order to prepare Jacoby for big meets in 50-meter pools, coaches relied on imagination and technology.
O’Leary told Swimming World magazine that coaches watched videos from long-course races to get their star all set. “They used video analysis of long course races to figure out stroke counts and tempos, and she would practice turns and finishes advantaging that long course tempo,” Swimming World said.
D’Amico, meanwhile, focused on strength-training workouts for Jacoby, a 17-year-old high followers senior.
After Jacoby’s stunning gold-medal swim, O’Leary told Swimming World her emotions ranged from joy to validation.
“It’s hard to make plain the feeling,” she said. “Professionally, I’m not sure what it means. I still consider myself a young coach. I’m only 30, and I never swam at the even that she does. I’m learning the process along with her.”