Andy aims for Stingray surge

The Stingray Swim Club of Grand Cayman has appointed Andy Copley as head coach.

Copley brings a wealth of coaching experience to the outfit, having worked with other small, growing clubs as well as ranked junior swimmers such as the Cayman Islands’ Alex McCallum.

The former head coach and founder of the Santa Monica YMCA Swim Team in California, Copley coached the team to consecutive California Swim League titles in 2009 and 2010.

He was then hired by Team Santa Monica in 2011 under former Cayman national team coach Dave Kelsheimer, before being named to the Southern California Swimming All-Star coaching staff in 2012. He has coached top-10 ranked athletes in the United States and also assisted Kelsheimer in coaching junior national champions and Olympic trials qualifiers from Australia and the US.

“When I worked at Team Santa Monica, I worked under Dave Kelsheimer who was the original coach of Stingray Swim Club,” Copley said. “He and Dominic Ross, along with Paula Swaby and other coaches, built Stingray and Cayman Swimming into a powerhouse in the Caribbean.

“In March 2012, Dave gave me the opportunity to come to Cayman to assist the Department of Sports with a temporary coaching shortage at the Lions pool in the lead up to CARIFTA 2012,” he added. “I spent four days here and instantly fell in love with it. It was a tough decision to leave my friends, family and swimmers back in Santa Monica, but it has been worth every minute.”

Copley said he has a basic coaching philosophy.

“Timing is everything,” he said. “It’s important to build strong foundations of technique, speed and a deep-rooted love for the sport so that when a swimmer’s time comes, they are able to take off and perform at a high level.

“I often see kids who get into their high-intensity training too early, or are pushed into being something they’re not ready to be,” he added. “Personally, it’s my goal to see that the swimmers I coach are ready physically and mentally for the challenges that come along with a career in swimming.

Copley said: “There is a new energy at the Lions pool. When I was here over the summer I expected it to be a temporary basis, helping to fill the gap. If I’m honest, when I showed up this team seemed a little weary. It’s been a 180-degree turn since then – the kids are starting to swim fast. They’re still tired but for different reasons. It’s fun.”

Copley said he has high hopes and strong ambitions for the club.

“Oh man, it’s hard to say because I don’t want to put a ceiling on what can be done,” he said. “These kids are roaring to life right in front of my eyes. But I suppose the ultimate goal while I’m here is to lay a foundation for successful, fast swimming and create a culture of excellence.

“The club is growing right now and I am optimistic that we are on the right track.

“In all honesty, when I first moved here to help out, I had a couple moments where I thought to myself, ‘What on earth am I doing here?’,” he said. “But by the end of last summer, I began to see the spark in the swimmers and in the families. The opportunity to rekindle that fire and rebuild a programme with so much rich history over the last 17 years is one that is hard to pass up.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to be here working with these kids who, in my eyes, have made the turn around of the century. And come on, it’s the Cayman Islands. I’m from Montana. It’s 5 degrees in Montana right now.”

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