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GCU Club Swimming Leadership Focused on Building Culture

November 7, 2018

By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff

Over the summer, the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team kept busy as they joined the newly organized College Club Swimming program, welcomed two new assistant coaches, and added 22 new athletes to the team’s roster. For fans on the outside looking in, such achievements might not look connected, but to their coach, they all fit together in achieving one important goal.

“If you talk to the new leadership we added this year, you can tell that one of the biggest things that we are focusing on this season is team culture,” said Lopes Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “It’s something that we didn’t touch on too much the last few years, and we really wanted to capitalize on it this time around. While we obviously want to be competitive, we also want to have fun and make sure that we build a culture of family.”

To help facilitate the establishment of a strong team culture, Phung knows that strong leadership will be essential. With this in mind, the club swimming team has added three new members to its leadership team.

On the coaching side, the Lopes welcome new assistant coaches Parker Freeman and Brianna Haddock. For Phung, the decision to bring both Freeman and Haddock onto his coaching staff was a relatively easy one.

“I knew Brianna would bring a lot to the team because she already had several years of coaching experience, and having another experienced voice would be really helpful,” said Phung. “As for Parker, he has several years of swimming experience, so it felt like a good transition.  They both add great perspectives as previous swimmers on the team-as to what things were good and what things need to change.”

With personal experience as an athlete on the team, Haddock already knew what she wanted to see improve for future athletes.

“I personally wanted to see this program become like a gateway where people could get plugged into campus, get connected and make really good relationships,” said Haddock. “When Jeremy came to me with the opportunity to coach, I was excited to have the chance to promote those relationships.”

Freeman’s desire to coach came from the same roots as Haddock.

“The hardest part for growing programs like ours can sometimes be building community for everyone and not just focusing on competition,” explained Freeman. “I’m really excited to help get everyone on the same page about the goals and growth of the team while also building that community and cohesiveness.”

Phung also named veteran swimmer Christy Krahn as the team’s student leader.

“Christy was honestly an obvious choice for the student leader position,” explained Phung. “Not only does she have the best attendance on the team, but she’s easily the hardest working swimmer out there, and her desire to grow is truly inspiring. Not to mention, her vision of growing the team and building meaningful relationships really struck a chord with me, and I knew that the team could really use someone like her.”

Krahn’s dedication to seeing her teammates grow alongside one another was easy to detect.

“Last year, our team never really bonded, but the biggest reason I stayed was for teammates,” explained Krahn. “I wanted to use my position this year to foster relationships and build community, which is something I thought we didn’t really have last year.”

In order to do this, Krahn has already been hard at work planning events to help her teammates grow closer together.

“So far, I’ve put together a few team events like a night of ultimate Frisbee and a bowling event,” said Krahn. “We’ve also planned a hiking trip and a hangout night around finals to help de-stress everyone.”

Although the club swimming season is still young, there’s no doubt that the focus on culture and community is already felt by all those involved.  Freeman pointed out that “as compared to the last few years, the team this year really feels like family,” to which Phung, Haddock and Krahn all nodded in silent agreement.

If you are looking for a way to get connected at GCU, make sure to check out the club swimming team, and learn how you can be a part of the family.