Swimming in victories

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By Shawanda Kinsey / Staff Writer

By Shawanda Kinsey / Staff Writer

Dave Almquist has led the women’s swim and water polo teams to victory many times in his 17 years at Riverside City College.

“I’m glad to be able to win,” Almquist said. “It’s much more fun.”

If winning is fun for Almquist, he must have had a blast in 2011 when the women’s water polo team won its second state championship in a row.

The secret behind a winning team is a winning coach. Almquist has learned key strategies to bringing out the best in whatever team he coaches.

“The secret to being a good coach is to know the people and understand the team,” Almquist said. “When coaching one team, I found that putting pressure on them made them work harder, but with last season’s finals we found that putting too much pressure actually made the team stress, so we eased up and told them to do their best and there was much better results. The way you relate to the team is very critical to the team’s success.”

The ability to relate to the team is not only something that Almquist practices, but is also something he requires of the other coaches that he entrusts the team to.

“The coaches I hire must be able to relate to the team,” he said.

Not only is being able to relate to the team an important aspect of coaching, so is being able to create the team.

“Being a good recruiter is a huge deal,” Almquist said. “If you don’t recruit well, you won’t win.”

Almquist feels confident in the swimmers and divers they have recruited for this season.

“Swimming is different from most other sports such as basketball or football in that it is pure sport and doesn’t get as much coverage,” Almquist said. “There isn’t as many programs or scholarships for these sports and not much television coverage, so if you’re going to swim, it has to be because you enjoy it.”

“You can be a good swimmer regardless of your size, unlike other sports,” he said. “What matters the most in swimming is that you work hard.”

These aspects of water polo, swimming, and diving are what make Almquist most happy about coaching the sport and he’s surrounded by people who love the sport.

Although Almquist still likes to win, he has discovered that it is about more than just winning. 

“When I first started coaching I just wanted to win, win, win,” he said. “Now I realize that the most important thing is that we all have fun and enjoy what we do. You might not win the race, but if you swim the best you can, it’s something to be proud of, so for state conference finals I would like us to be the best we can be as a team and I would like for every swimmer to do a lifetime best swim.”

Being a coach of college students does have its obstacles.

“The biggest obstacle for me right now in coaching would be academics,” Almquist said. “I feel as a coach you have to take academics real serious.”

Almquist along with other coaches work with the team members and their counselors, making sure they get registered for the right classes.

They even monitor the team members’ grades to a certain extent to ensure they are on the right track academically. 

Almquist works to ensure that Riverside City College’s swim, diving, and water polo teams continue winning both academically and athletically.

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