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18 Years, 300 Wins

Swim Coach Dave Stephens Shares His Experiences Over 18 Years of Coaching

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18 Years, 300 Wins

Caroline VanDam, Editor in Chief

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Wolfpack swim team coach David Stephens celebrated his 300th win last month after the team’s meet at Fenwick. The win over Fenwick was his 306th win, the actual 300th win took place at a meet earlier in the season. The team surprised him at their team dinner with special “300” shirts and a surprise party. I sat down with Coach Stephens, who has coached at Ignatius for 18 years, to talk about his coaching style and goals for his swimmers.

Why do you coach swimming? What draws you to the sport? 
I swam since I was a little kid and I got involved with it when I was younger. After college, I was looking at law school and found a job here at Ignatius. For me, it is a rewarding sport, the work you put in is what you get out, and then, to watch that happen for the athletes, as well, is what makes that a rewarding career.

The Wolfpack compete in the 2017 Sectionals Swim Meet

Can you describe your own swimming career?
I started off when I was a little kid and got to swim through college at arguably one of the best division I programs, swimming with multiple Olympians. It was a great experience that ultimately set the bar for what I expect of the athletes here, knowing what intense training looks like.


What’s the difference between coaching boys and girls?
I found that with girls there is more of a social aspect to it, they work better when they are doing things as a team or as a group. I think girls are a bit tougher when it comes to more challenging sets, boys are more competitive and like racing more.

What are the attributes of a swimmer that distinguishes these high school athletes from other athletes?
The time commitment to the sport. I think having to do both a morning and afternoon practice is a big commitment. Balancing your school work with that commitment is tough. It is a lot that we are asking of the athletes and it is remarkable how well they do when they are in the swim season and have to budget their time and manage everything accordingly. I think the volume of practice time is a lot, but it says a lot about the kids that do it.

What are the top three characteristics an athlete needs to possess to be a successful swimmer?
You have to have a good sense of time management and balance. You have to have that first, then to be a successful swimmer, you have to have the drive, both mental and physical, to want to improve. You also have to have a positive attitude and a willingness to get in and do work.

The girls swim team supports their teammates at Sectionals

If you were not a swimming coach, what would be your next choice of a sport to coach?
I have fallen into the triathlon world so I think that would be an interesting dynamic. I’ve learned more about cycling and running so I would get into coaching a triathlon. At Ignatius, maybe I would get into track.

Swimmers form a unique bond as a team, how do you monitor the team environment to ensure it’s an inclusive environment where the team thrives together?
The girls specifically are pretty good about trying to do more team activities. We have some traditions that get passed on that make it a bit easier. I try to put it more on the athletes and the seniors to take charge. We did that this year with senior led prayers and hopefully we will pass that on to the next class. We give them the tools and the opportunities to be leaders, but ultimately it is up to them to take the leadership initiative. Its their team, we are just there to make them work hard.

The team finished their season as an undefeated team and went into the championship season with a win at the varsity/frosh soph conference and at sectionals, allowing many swimmers to qualify for the state meet.

2017 Seniors

State Qualifiers:

Abbey Taute

Annie Egan

Isabel Veliz
Jenna Keating

Kira Tiv
Lauren Cox

Madison Schiml
Summer Brainin
Ellie Boyle


Ellie Boyle
Lauren Cox
Carson Goldrick
Georgia Goldrick
Juliana Lynch
Mia McNair
Molly Skoglund
Caroline VanDam
Ellie Walsh

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18 Years, 300 Wins