Athletes That Train Together, Stick Together

Updated: Jan 29

I was fortunate to grow up playing water polo and swim in a semi-combined gender program. There were many benefits to the approach as we learned to interact, joke, support, disagree, make up, grow physically and emotionally together, and most importantly, bond. Over the past three years of coaching, I have dealt with pushback over running a combined gender aquatics program, which we must overcome on all school campuses.


Comments like “girls distract boys” or “boys have a more advanced skill set”, etc. have been all too commonplace. This rationale is not only antiquated for the times we live in, it's also unhelpful to all genders. For kids that don’t have sisters, it’s a great way for them to learn about how to interact with a girl. It encourages relationship building that can be completely platonic, which is helpful long term for many facets of life (marriage, business, etc.) and also has short term benefits, such as bringing down the risk of teen pregnancy through better peer communication.


Combined programs also bring out the best in competition. When one team can keep up with the boys, they feel great. Conversely, I think it brings out better performance from the boys because they don’t like losing to their gender counterparts. In life, we compete against other genders for jobs, in business, etc. on a daily basis. Why should the pool deck be any different?


Lastly, it really does help players bond. We recently experienced one of my players being the victim of an awful situation. He is in the hospital in critical condition, fighting for his life. During this tragic time, I have seen current athletes and alumni show up in every way possible. The combined program, started years ago, created bonds between all of the players that created a true community. There is strength in numbers and my heart is beyond full to have my athletes donate blood, money, get the word out to their support systems to donate, pray, send good thoughts, and remind this particular athlete's family that they aren’t alone.



As I reflect on my time at Fresno High, I’m convinced now more than ever that I have done the right thing for my kids, parents, and coaches. The program I helped build will likely not carry on as much of this semi-combined gender philosophy once I exit the program. However, I’m very proud of what the team has accomplished under my tenure as players and more importantly, as people. It’s now very common for our players to graduate and attend college, build businesses as entrepreneurs, or simply practice better life skills like saving thousands of dollars for their future.


Just know that while our location at Echo may move, I won’t stop building a program with the same values I learned on the pool deck many years ago. I hope you’ll continue to support us so we can continue to support your children and the community.


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