Swim coach readies women for State and beyond

Head Cedar Falls swim coach and former UNI swimmer Chelsea Szczyrbak has led the Tigers to this year’s state swimming meet, qualifying all 11 swimming events with at least one swimmer. The state meet will take place this weekend at the Marshalltown YMCA. 

How long have you been coaching?

Four seasons (two girls, starting second boys)/two tears for Cedar Falls. Prior to this I coached three seasons at UNI as graduate assistant.

What is your background in this sport?

Twelve years total of competitive swimming. Four years of high school swimming experience. Four years of Division I collegiate swimming experience. Three years of Division I college coaching. When I was in high school I competed in the state of Iowa and within the MVC Conference, so it is nice to have that understanding of the history of the schools we are competing against within the conference. 

What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned from being a coach?

Humbleness. There is always something new to learn whether it be within the sport, working with people or about yourself. I am and always should be learning. 

What are one or two things that the team does in training that are keys to their success?

  1. Stay Disciplined. Training for the sport of swimming is rigorous and the high school swimming season goes by fast, so staying disciplined for the 97 days we are in the pool is a key to our success. The specific answer to this point is underwater dolphin kicks 🙂
  2. Keep our four team goals in the forefront of our mind: have fun, work hard, be a family, win championships. 

What is your proudest coaching moment?

-For me there are two times where I am the most proud of our team and athletes. The first would be anytime an athlete turns toward the coaching staff after a race or a practice set and has a smile on their face from accomplishing what they were working hard for. The second would be when I see the members of our team feel knowledgeable and empowered to step up and lead the rest of the team. 

What is the most memorable moment you’ve had while coaching?

There are so many memorable moments over the last three seasons. I’m not sure I have one that is most memorable. 

How do you encourage your team after a loss or disappointing outcome?

We have a team meeting following every dual/invite to evaluate as a team what we did well and what we need to work on. To encourage my team after a loss or disappointing outcome, we do what we have always done, which is discuss the pros and cons and then make the adjustments for the next meet. If we have a disappointing outcome in the middle of the meet, I talk with the team or athlete and we stay the course. You can’t let one bad race define the meet, and you can’t let one bad meet define the season. Evaluate, make adjustments and move forward. 

What legacy do you hope to leave as a coach?

The ability to work hard, the importance of a team, a love for the sport of swimming and an understanding of what Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross means for each and every one of us through FCA.

What are your goals for the team at State? 

-Have fun, swim fast, be a team, score all three relays!

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