A Unique Style of Leadership and Eduation

By William Wiebking

“A Unique Style of Leadership and Eduation” first appeared in the September/October 2004 edition of Swimming World. It is reprinted here with permission of the author. William Wiebking is the head USA Swimming Age Group coach for Hargrave Aquatics and Assitant Varsity swimming coach at Hargrave.

Prep Schools are consistent, thoroughbred performers in high school aquatics. For example, La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the current venue for one of the most prestigious private school meets in the country, the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships. In 2004, Germantown Academy, a powerhouse of an aquatics program by itself, will host 104th running of the meet.

Can you imagine an annual swimming athletic event going over 100 years? For reference, swimming was first introduced to the Olympics in 1896. A 100+ year-old meet represents staying power. That is commitment. And, that is the very heart of a private school.
Private prep schools also bring their unique style of leadership and education into their sports. This is no different in swimming. Reaching for excellence is the norm, and anything less is simply a waste of time.

Prep swimming schools are very successful in moving an athlete’s attitude away from the ‘Can’t’ and into the world of ‘Can.’ They teach no short cut to success, while proving to each individual that anything worth the time is worth the effort.

Growing up in a South Florida public school, I remember attending the Florida swimming state meet and looking at the results from the state 2A meet. The 2A meet was usually held on Thursday before the 4A and 5A teams competed. I swam on a 4A public school team.

The Bolles School would trounce all classifications in regards to overall speed, and the 2A classification was for the smallest schools! A NCAA qualifying time at the high school level was not out of reach for Bolles swimmers, and about impossible for everyone else. Those Bolles athletes were inspiring, and they were acknowledged leaders.

Simply put, prep swimming schools leave other programs in their wake. How do they do it?
Prep swimming schools are 100% committed to their sports programs. Like the athletes that swim, the schools and academies push for the same excellence in their students. Their instructors and coaches teach hard-work, personal responsibility and leadership that comes from aiming for a higher goal. These skills transpire beyond swimming, and flow naturally into a student’s academics and private life.

For example, Hargrave Military Academy is a relatively new entrant into prep swimming, and the only military academy in the country with a three plus million dollar commitment to its swimming program. Hargrave did not have a serious swimming program prior to its new pool, but has been witness to the additional quality of success swimming has provided its Corps of Cadets. This quality is directly inline with what the academy teaches.

Prep schools also tend to be smaller, which places both more attention and responsibility on the individual. Camaraderie with roommates, teammates and fellow students are closer than in a public school environment. This builds a richer, more rewarding educational experience for individuals. These experiences prove invaluable in a student’s adult years.

There is a wide variety of very successful private school swimming programs in the country. Each program has its own pedigree, strengths and goals. Interested families and athletes should shop for the right match of school verses a personal philosophy or goal. Swimming World’s private school directory is a great place to start.

Hargrave Military Academy logo.