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article imageMeet Dave Durden: Men's Swimming Head Coach for the 2020 Olympics Special

By Markos Papadatos     May 20, 2019 in Sports
Berkeley - Dave Durden is the Men's Swimming Head Coach for 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Durden chatted with Digital Journal about his coaching career and he shared his advice for young and aspiring swimmers.
On serving as the head coach of the men's swimming team, Durden acknowledged that it has "a tremendous level of responsibility."
Greg Meehan will join Durden as the women's swimming head coach for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "It is awesome to be a head coach along with Greg. I've known Greg for a long time now," he said. "We worked together at Cal, and it is going to be a blast. I am looking forward to it."
In 2018, Durden was nominated for the Golden Goggle Award for "Coach of the Year." He is the head men's swim coach at the University of California, Berkeley. "That was really cool. We are working hard, but at the end of the day, the athletes are the ones that are doing the work," he said. "Our athletes make me look really good. I am proud of what they've done."
Durden previously served as an assistant for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and he has coached athletes at the past four Olympics. He has coached such distinguished Olympic medalists as Nathan Adrian, Josh Prenot, Ryan Murphy and Tom Shields, among others.
In addition, Durden was a head coach for the Team USA men's swimming team at both the 2015 and 20157 FINA World Championships respectively.
Men s Swimming Head Coach Dave Durden for Team USA for 2020 Olympic Games
Men's Swimming Head Coach Dave Durden for Team USA for 2020 Olympic Games
Justin Casterline, klc
When asked what motivates him each day, as an elite swimming coach, he responded, "I just want to make sure that I am expecting a lot out of our guys in the water. I am expecting a lot out of their training, and in terms of them being responsible for their success. I ask a lot out of myself in preparing them to be at their best."
"Knowing that they are trusting me with their aspirations, dreams, and successes is reassuring. I want to make sure I am giving that back to them," he said.
Throughout his respected career as a swimming coach, Durden was honored as "Coach of the Year" by the American Swim Coaches Association and the Golden Goggle Awards in 2016; moreover, Durden is a four-time NCAA "Coach of the Year" and seven-time Pac-12 "Coach of the Year." Thanks to his leadership, the Cal swimmers earned 37 NCAA titles, as well as 85 Pac-12 titles.
For young and aspiring swimmers, he said, "I have two very young and aspiring swimmers in my own children, Jack, age 10, and Mia, age nine. More than anything else at that age, I want them to have fun. I want them to swim 'pretty in the water' and really enjoy what they are doing."
He has nothing but the kindest words about the University of California, Berkeley. "We just went through graduation ceremonies this week, and it is great to see surrounded by intellectual, curiosity-seeking individuals," he said. "That also extends to the athletes that I coach and it just makes it fun."
Durden also praised Coach Teri McKeever, who coaches the women's swimming team at the university, for being "awesome." "Teri certainly looks at the sport in a different way. It challenges me to really understand where she is coming from as a coach. Her athletes have done a phenomenal job. It is so much fun. I am always picking up little things here and there, and how she structures her practice with her athletes," she said.
On balancing fatherhood with a coaching career, he said, "I really try to make the time count when I am in different areas. I try not to get too wrapped up with the time I spend in one particular area, whether it's family or swimming, but I make that time count."
He also credits his wife, Cathy, for being a tremendous support system, as well as for holding the fort at home. "I am married to a great woman, and I have two great kids," he admitted. "I have a ton of support and I wouldn't be able to accomplish everything without that support."
Digital transformation of aquatics
Regarding the impact of technology on aquatics, he said, "Technology has certainly changed the way that we recruit athletes. It changes the way I have conversations with athletes. I started this year doing video team meetings, where I send them a video of myself and talk about the training cycle for the week. It enables them to digest the information when they are coming to the pool and waking up. That makes things more efficient with their time."
With the different analytics being predominant these days, his goal is to make sure that he is "coaching the person" as opposed to the numbers and data. "That's a challenge, but it's knowing when to use the numbers," he explained. "It has been interesting with this evolution over the last five or six years."
On being a coach in this digital age, Durden said, "It is awesome. There are a lot of things that I am still learning about how I can utilize different forms of technology to help our athletes get better. I am still such a 'field guy' and that really determines the next step and training cycle. Our guys are teaching me more about technology as we go along. Watching them from the 'deck' still has a lot of value to me in coaching our athletes."
He also complimented the USA Swimming Foundation for the work that they've done to "promote swimming" and to "teach swimming to help kids in the underprivileged communities to be water safe." "Their message is getting out," he said. "Debbie Hesse and her team have been absolutely phenomenal in promoting the message of saving lives."
The esteemed coach defined the word success as a "constant journey." "We are certainly not there yet. Success is a continual learning process to help my athletes get better and faster," he said. "If I get there, I think it will be time for me to retire," he added, jokingly.
For Team USA swimming fans, Durden concluded, "It's an exciting 14 months as we head to Olympic Trials. It is such a community effort to help these athletes get to where they are. Hopefully, our athletes will bring home some medals for us."
Read More: Digital Journal chatted with Teri McKeever, the head coach of the women's swimming team at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012, McKeever was the head coach for U.S. Olympic women's swimming team that competed in the Olympic Games in London.
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