This week on the P2Life blog, we're talking to Marty Hendrick, Head Master's Coach, a certified American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) USMS (U. S. Masters Swimming**) Level 4 Coach (one of the first 14 in USMS), who has been coaching at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex full time since 2005, initially as the Head Masters Coach of the FLA Masters and most recently Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters.
Marty’s experience as a USMS coach includes winning three National Club Championships; 2010 USMS Summer Nationals in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2014 USMS Summer Nationals, College Park, MD and the 2015 USMS Summer Nationals, Cleveland, OH. For the past 10 consecutive years, his clubs have placed in the Top 10 at a National Championship.
In his tenure coaching Masters Swimmers, Marty has coached 63 USMS Individual All- Americans, 170 USMS Relay All-Americans with over 230 Individual National Championship swims. His teams have also achieved success at the International level by winning two IGLA Small Team Titles in 2008 and 2011 as well as a Top 10 performance at the 2009 Pan American Championships in Vera Cruz, Mexico. His club, Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters was recognized as the 2015 U.S. Masters Club of the Year.
In 2015 Marty was recognized with the Speedo/U.S. Masters Swimming Coach of The Year Award. He was also awarded the 2011 USMS Kerry O'Brien Coaching Award. He was selected to be an Honorary Speaker at the 2014 American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) World Wide Conference. In addition, Marty has served as a US Masters Convention Delegate, a member of the USMS Coaches Committee. He is currently the Chair of the Florida Gold Coast LMSC and is a member of the Diversity Task Force for US Masters Swimming.
As a USMS Swimmer, Marty has multiple Masters FINA World Top 10 rankings, 52 individual and 82 relay USMS National Top 10 rankings. He currently holds the USMS National record as a member of the 4 X 10,000 relay (Mixed 55+ Age Group). He was also inducted into the Broward County (FL) Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Let's hear from this super accomplished swimming professional!
Marty, thanks for talking with P2Life today. Tell us about your background in swimming.
Well I started as a swimmer in a summer league in the Washington DC area and then I went to college as a swimmer on a scholarship from Towson University, a college outside of Baltimore, Maryland. I was a social swimmer; it was one of the many sports I participated in as a child, as an adult. That’s what stood out; it was the camaraderie of swimmers.
Upon graduation I stopped swimming and tried other things: the gym, aerobics. But when I turned 28, I realized I liked swimming and got back into it and joined a Masters swimming club. It was a great compliment to my corporate life. Swimming was my after work “happy hour”. It was kind of a joke with my colleagues – if there was a bad day after work, I was at a “martini swim”.
But really the personal benefit kept me honest and feeling better. Periodically, I signed up for local meets, or Nationals, and sometimes got very competitive. Swimming was also a way to unwind and with the social aspect mixed in it was perfect for me. I worked for a company in the 90s and it was there that I realized the importance of going to swim practice. My boss made an interesting observation. There were days he would say, “I don’t think you’ve swum in a few days. Go to practice.” It obviously impacted me in many ways.
Sounds like a great boss! How did you make the transition to coaching?
In 2004, we sold the company and I semi-retired. I wanted to give back to the sport. In May 2004, I started volunteering at my swim club, Fort Lauderdale Aquatics. The head coach, Duffy Dillon, would have me cover practices. I was the “yes man” – I would do anything. Duffy, now the International Marketing Director for ASCA, kept trying to hire me on as a coach and after his constant recruiting, I decided to do it in 2005. I was with Ft. Lauderdale Aquatics(FLA) and then in 2011 FLA left complex and in January 2012, we started Swim Ft. Lauderdale.
Through the 80s and 90s, a lot of programs didn’t have a dedicated coach. When I
was in DC for just a couple of years, we coached ourselves, and in Florida, I would
volunteer to coaches to help cover practices. I enjoyed doing it. I enjoyed making up
workouts when we did not have a coach on deck.
Awesome! What are some of the rewards of coaching?
Personally, I like to see the camaraderie among team members. I’m from a large family and one of the things my 90 year old father loves is to sit back and watch the family get together and enjoy each other’s company. That’s what the sport of swimming gives us. I like to watch the groups not need me to keep them cohesive. I love that!
How do you foster that team spirit and cohesiveness?
I foster it through delegation and I allow others to step up. I’m always encouraging that. I have a certain way of coaching, but I learn from watching others, too. I want them to be comfortable with taking on responsibility. For example, I used to set up a casual breakfast after practice. Then I purposely started not going so that they continued the breakfast without me. I like tapping into those interests.
Sounds like a great team environment. On the flip side, what are some of the challenges of coaching?
As a Masters swim coach, you are dealing with varying levels of expertise within any given workout; it’s a very broad audience. From an extreme novice, to an elite swimmer, and everything in between. This could also include levels of physical abilities, disabilities, and what brings each person to practice. A good coach will try to understand why each individual is there. You can’t have one set workout since every practice is made up of individuals.
Swimming is a rewarding sport. But what’s great about the US Masters Swimming experience?
What’s unique about Masters swimming is that each one of our swimmers is there because they want to be there. Not because of their parents or college applications. There’s always outside influences pushing us towards something, but the individual comes on their own accord. They drive themselves – they are self-motivators. Bottom line is, one of the hardest things for a first time swimmer is to step onto the deck for the first time. The rest we can work on together.
Definitely! How do you share nutrition advice for your teams?
We haven’t done anything formal with nutrition, but as a coach, I can tell you that we tell swimmers, especially if they’re doing races, that the prep they do in the water is just as important as eating and fueling for their bodies.
I’m also an advocate of nutrition companies that sponsor the sport. I pay attention to who’s on deck at Nationals. Also, more education is great. Reading the blogs, like the P2Life blog is a great way to get educated. As adults, we think we know about nutrition, but it’s one thing I’m sometimes uncomfortable with and learning about good hydration, proper meals, etc. is a good way to stay informed.
Glad you're enjoying the blog! Do you have any closing thoughts for our readers?
I think that what keeps people in the water is a personal goal. Make sure your coach is knowledgeable of your goals. And the swimmer should be flexible since the coach may broaden their goals. If you’re too shortsighted, a goal is better than nothing. If they’re not working with a coach, someone needs to know your goals. Always work towards a goal – it’s what will keep getting you in the water.
Thanks, Marty! Looking forward to seeing you at the next event!