Blue Hill—The swimming pool serves as a second home to George Stevens Academy swim coach Don Driscoll.
Now five years into his career as the Eagles’ head coach, Driscoll was a Division 1 swimmer at the University of Nebraska before embarking on a 31-year coaching stint at Tappan Zee High School in Orangeburg, N.Y., in 1970 as boys varsity coach. Driscoll led that team to several New York state championships, and his team was also ranked at the national level during many of his seasons as head coach.
“For me, [coaching GSA] was a way to get back into a sport that I love,” said Driscoll.
The similarities between Driscoll’s experience coaching in New York and heading the program at GSA are many. When he started coaching at Tappan Zee, the program was just getting off the ground, and the team was made up of many novice swimmers. The same can be said about his first few years with the Eagles, as the team is just starting to get experience under its belt after five years of varsity competition.
For Driscoll, that experience, and the improvement that comes with it, is what makes the team grow every year.
“Swimming requires conditioning and focus,” said Driscoll. “It’s important to motivate the kids and show them that they can succeed in what they do. It’s fun to watch them hit their goals and then keep going, because often times their potential is greater than the goals they set for themselves.”
Driscoll described his style of coaching as a collaborative effort between him and the athletes.
“To be a successful coach you have to be a good teacher, too,” said Driscoll. “It’s important to have good relationships with the kids.”
Driscoll added that because of the relationships he has made with his swimmers, he has already had several highlights in his five years with the program.
“I think seeing the swimmers improve, both in skill and in their confidence, has been the number one highlight for me,” he said. “You have kids who come in and they have a hard time doing one length of the pool in the beginning, and by the end of the season they’re swimming end to end with confidence.”
On the flip side of that, he noted, has been watching swimmers such as Ava Sealander excel in the sport.
“That’s been really fun to be a part of,” said Driscoll. “She is one of the best swimmers in New England. That’s what makes this so much fun, is that there is such a mix of experience, and we all kind of grow together.”