From a Piedmont Swim Team press release:When Piedmont Swim Team’s Co-Head Coaches Kristen Sissener and Shauna Barnard were teammates with 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin at Cal, they never thought the day would come that they would be waiting in line for autographs with their own team of young swimmers. But on Saturday, February 16th, that all changed. With a group of 20 of Piedmont’s young swimmers in tow, PST’s new coaches were able to leverage their connection with former teammate and superstar Coughlin to sign autographs, take pictures, and serve as an inspiration for the next generation of up and coming swimmers in Piedmont.
And according to PST swimmer Kaitlyn Burnham (12), “This is the best day of my life,” after getting a solo picture with her long-time swimming role model Coughlin.
Along with their connections to some of swimming’s most highly-decorated stars, Sissener and Barnard, along with Assistant Coach Colby Price, hope to bring a focused and elite brand of swimming to the Piedmont area. Barnard, a certified yoga instructor, has already introduced a comprehensive yoga program to the team’s training plan, adding a dynamic element not found in most competitive age-group programs. In addition to a training plan focused on competition and race strategy, the coaches are excited by their early results.
“I see a lot of talent in this group of young swimmers, and a lot of support for high achievement from parents and the community. I’m confident that bringing our backgrounds and experience to the Piedmont area will produce great results from this team” says Sissener.
And great results they have seen in just a short amount of time. In just 10 weeks, PST’s team has already put forth a great showing at local meets. PST swimmer Maria Chan (10) qualified for the elite age-group Zone Championships team following her stand-out performances at Pacific Swimming’s Zone II championships in January, and PST has a number of swimmers of all ages in the running for JO Championships in March.
“These swimmers have been responding very well to a more race-focused style of training, and though there’s been a period of adjustment, I’m very happy with the progress we’ve seen so far, “ says Barnard.
PST’s recent success has not been without challenge, however. Following the departure of a long-time staff of coaches, and the loss of some of the top swimmers to other programs, the team has been in rebuild mode at all skill levels.
Filling those spots turned out to be a non-issue as the fall evaluations were finished with a waiting list of 30 swimmers, underscoring the pent-up demand for a quality competitive year round swim program in Piedmont. The coaches are actively working with the Rec Department swim program to build a bridge program for these swimmers not quite ready for a year round team, which requires proficiency in all four standard strokes.Challenges aside, Sissener, Barnard and Price will continue to focus on developing talent within the growing team. For now they’re just happy continuing to deliver “best days ever”, whether in or out of the pool.
The successes of the historically strong Piedmont HS waterpolo and swim teams are a direct result of having a strong year-round competitive swim team in Piedmont. The roster of these teams, and some of the local private schools, are filled with PST current and alumni swimmers.
“Our kids can swim and they learn how to do it from their time on PST,” said Leslie Fennell PST Board President. “Watching other swim programs in our high school league, it’s clear which schools don’t have a strong community swim program to ground the team members in swimming fundamentals.”
Piedmont Swim Team currently calls the Piedmont Community Pool home. For more information on the team, please visit their website, piedmontswimteam.org. You can also find them on Facebook (Piedmont Swim Team). Open tryouts are typically held at the end of August but interested swimmers may contact the coaches to see if there are any in-season spots open on the team based on their skill level.
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