By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
While summer break is usually a time of vacation and relaxation for most, Grand Canyon University Club Swimming Head Coach Jeremy Phung has been hard at work. Over the past few months, Phung has been actively working to prepare his program for the upcoming season, and for good reason. Since its inception, the club swimming team has competed in United States Masters Swimming Organization (USMS) sponsored events, held locally on the west coast. However, due to growing interest and success, the Lopes now have the opportunity to compete in the newly established College Club Swimming (CCS) program.
“They created this new CCS program, which is backed by US Masters, and essentially formed an organized league for all of collegiate club swimming,” explained Phung. “As a still-growing team, it’s exciting to get to grow alongside a program that will also be growing. We can’t wait to dive right in this (coming) year.”
In addition to the unity and organization that the CCS looks to usher in for club swimming programs around the nation, athletes will also have better standards for competing at the collegiate level. For example, not only will the Lopes have access to a larger pool of collegiate competitors, but high level competitions, such as nationals, will also set qualifying times that teams must meet in order to compete.
“For CCS, we will have to go to sanctioned meets, and our athletes will have to hit qualifying standard times for the team to be eligible for nationals,” said Phung. “I know how talented the athletes in our program are, and based off of the qualifying mes that were released, I’m positive that they can make nationals. No matter what, I think it will be helpful for the program as a whole.”
With the new league in place, Phung’s next step towards continued program growth has been with recruiting, signing a whopping 22 new athletes for the upcoming season. While 22 new athletes is a lot for a growing program, Phung says that his message to incoming athletes is simple.
“I just tell them that we can give them the opportunity to essentially be a collegiate athlete, and help them continue to improve their skills and pursue the sport they love,” Phung explained. “It’s also enticing for them knowing that they can still get a degree, and work a job and have a normal life, while still getting to compete and grow in the sport. Also, joining this new league has reinforced the competitive nature of the club and given our recruits something more to look forward to.”
The last piece of the off-season puzzle that Phung added was to his coaching staff. Much to Phung’s delight, a pair of veteran Lopes’ Club Swimmers, senior Parker Freeman and junior Brianna Haddock, agreed to step down as athletes, and step up as assistant coaches for the 2018-19 school year.
“It’s so beneficial to have these two join the coaching staff, because they understand the culture of the team as well as my coaching philosophy,” explained Phung. “They already know what I want out of the program, but they also have been on the other side, and know what they want to see achieved as athletes. It’s all just made me so excited for what’s to come.”
While these steps mark major landmarks for the development of GCU’s Club Swimming program, Coach Phung still has one major goal on his mind.
“Honestly, our biggest goal is still to get not just a competition pool, but a full aquatics center on campus someday,” he said. “I love this sport so much, and not every person gets to do it. It’s not like basketball or football, where you can find a court or a field anywhere. So if you are dedicated enough to pay and pursue this sport in college, I want to always have the room to grow, and allow these athletes the opportunity to swim and compete collegiately.”
Interested in joining Club Swimming? Contact the Coach to learn more!