My background in swimming was molded in breaststroke….not freestyle. It’s been over the last decade that I have been a student of efficient freestyle and applied these principals to the best of my ability to become a pretty decent open water swimmer and instructor.
Certain people come into your life out of fate and I was fortunate enough back in 2001 to have a gentlemen by the name of Stan Tinkham come into my “swimming life” who rejuvenated my enthusiasm for swimming breaststroke again. Stan….who is in the swimming Hall of Fame as the coach of the 1956 Women’s Olympic Team, the founder of the Northern Virginia Aquatics club, and one of the founders of the Montgomery County Swim League and coach of the Walter Reed Civilian swim team was a very respected influence in the swimming world. He’s coached Olympic gold medalists and English Channel Marathon swimmers. How he ended up in 2001 at the Montgomery Village YMCA and coached the swim team I will never know and I never asked! I was a 5:30am swimmer….and Stan was having problems with the young team showing up for practice at that time. Stan knew I was training for the 2002 World Masters Championships in New Zealand and after several conversations we established a connection that he would help train me…as long as I would show up!! No problem on my part!!! He was unconventional….that’s where I get a lot of the hutzpah I use today in teaching! Stan never raised his voice….I wish he did!….he was always cool and collected. He loved questions on technique and new ideas…trust me we tried many variations to fine tune……..unlike some coaches today who feel quantity over quality…..in other words work harder not smarter. Stan’s coaching paid off for me as I placed 3rd at the Championships in the 200M breaststroke before a kidney stone attack sidelined me for the rest of the meet.
I’m not sure what Stan is doing today but I feel compelled to thank him for his gracious coaching and continue to pass it on.