June 8, 2023
Rachel Stratton Mills

Q&A: Interview with Rachel Stratton-Mills, Assistant Head Coach for Arizona State

Lia Neal was among the many first of Rachel Stratton-Mills’ Olympians. Now as assistant head coach at Arizona State, Solar Devils mentors quite a few international-class athletes as they proceed their NCAA rise.

Rachel Stratton-Mills
Assistant Head Coach
State of Arizona Swimming
Tempe, Arizona

• UCLA, BA, sociology, 2002; MA, social sciences, Arizona State College, 2022
• Chairman, Bruin Athletic Council, 2000-02
• Assistant head coach, Arizona State College, 2017-present
• Koç, DC Trident, 2019
• Head coach, Asphalt Inexperienced Unified Aquatics, 2010-15
• Assistant Coach, College of Maryland, 2008-10
• Assistant Coach, Dartmouth Faculty, 2006-08
• Head coach, Santa Monica Swimming Group, 2002-06
• Coach, West Valley Swimming Membership, 1997-2000
• Coach, USA Brief Course Worlds Nationwide Group, 2012
• Coach, USA Nationwide Junior World Championships, 2011
• Coach, Nationwide Election Camp, 2008
• Chairman, Pacific Division, Southern California Swimming, 2005-06
• Member, USA Swimming Guidelines/Laws Committee
• Member, Feminine Coaches in USA Swimming’s Governance Program
• ASCA Certificates of Excellence, 2010-12

S. WORLD OF SWIMMING: You got here to swim in your mid-teens. What did you do earlier than?
A. COACH RACHEL STRATTON-MILLS: I performed many alternative sports activities like soccer, tennis and softball. I performed tennis at a neighborhood membership, however you needed to take part in no less than two highschool sports activities to be exempt from gymnasium courses. Tennis counted however I had to decide on another person. The college was placing collectively a water polo crew that seemed like enjoyable… and it did! I used to be priceless to the crew as a result of I used to be left-handed, however I used to be a fairly dangerous swimmer. The water polo coach prompt that I be a part of a neighborhood swimming membership to enhance my swimming and endurance. I did and instantly fell in love with the game. I’ve by no means seemed again.

GB: And why West Valley JC after which UCLA for a swim?
Reply: I used to be midway by my center faculty 12 months after I began swimming critically. I acquired scholarship gives from a number of universities to play water polo, however my coronary heart was swimming. To do that in school, I wanted extra time in sports activities. I stayed dwelling for one more 12 months, joined the West Valley, and continued to coach and enhance as a swimmer. I selected UCLA as a result of my teammate/greatest pal was recruited by them. I form of adopted my pal’s recruitment course of and was given the chance to affix the crew.

GB: What was swimming like for Cyndi Gallagher?
RSM: My first 12 months at UCLA was very scary. I used to be a aggressive swimmer for somewhat over two years and nonetheless had loads to study. However I used to be at all times prepared to work laborious and actually loved the problem day-after-day.

GB: Wouldn’t it be truthful to say that Cyndi was her first mentor?
RSM: Completely. “For those who can see it, you could be it,” mentioned actress Elizabeth Marvel. I did not actually perceive how essential that was on the time, however now I understand how a lot being led by a feminine coach in school has helped me consider in the potential for my very own profession path. Furthermore, she was a girl who was additionally a mom, and that had a huge effect on me as I made my method by life as a mother and school swim coach.

GB: After Group Santa Monica, Maryland and Dartmouth, you’ve got helped Asphalt Inexperienced develop considerably. How?
Reply: Once I got here to Asphalt Inexperienced, there have been already profitable swimmers on the age group degree… and most of those that weren’t. So I felt it was my job to proceed to help those that are already profitable like Lia Neal and Annie Zhu whereas discovering a strategy to relate to those that want a unique strategy to obtain their targets. New York Metropolis is an attention-grabbing place to teach as a result of there’s all kinds of socio-economic, cultural backgrounds and languages ​​spoken. Asphalt Inexperienced was actually a small universe of the whole metropolis. In that setting, one coaching model and a method of speaking does not get the job finished, so it was thrilling to discover a strategy to join with every athlete in a method that made sense to them.

Picture Courtesy of: Arizona State College

SW: After leaving AGUA, you toured the USA for 15 months, visiting membership and college applications. How was that tour?
Reply: This journey was my husband’s dream. His enterprise, GoSwim, is an internet academic useful resource for swimming strategies. He at all times wished to see how groups have been educating method throughout the nation. At first I believed it was loopy, however then I believed this might be an amazing alternative for me to study numerous teaching kinds and coaching methodologies. So we bought just about the whole lot, purchased a 35-foot trailer, and hit the street. Our daughter Maddy was 1-1/2 years outdated on the time so the journey had its challenges… like potty coaching her 2 12 months outdated residing in a trailer. Competitions should not typical within the aggressive swimming world and most of the people shouldn’t have the chance to spend 15 months in our trade simply studying. We made essentially the most of it, visited over 60 groups and had an total nice expertise.

GB: What was the impulse to simply accept Bob Bowman’s program at Tempe?
Reply: The timing was good. I used to be on the finish of this go away and was wanting ahead to the following alternative. Bob had an open place and we had crossed paths many occasions prior to now, together with on a crew go to to ASU. The draw was what motivated me day-after-day, being surrounded by Bob and different coaches who’re extremely devoted to the game and always discover methods to enhance and preserve excellence.

SW: You have been a sprinter. Presently, you primarily coach ladies within the 50-100-200 races, and also you often give particular person coaching periods to every swimmer. What else is totally different out of your coaching as a swimmer?
Reply: An excessive amount of. The most important distinction for girls 50-100-200 is coaching extra at race tempo and dealing at totally different percentages of 100% of every athlete. Cardio work—I’ve finished many issues—is just a part of a plan that targets all power programs all through the coaching block. One other massive focus is the legs. Kick apply on, off a board, and underwater is without doubt one of the most essential issues we do in our weekly schedule.

GB: In the previous few years, your hiring of ladies has actually paid off. How does it assist to extend the feminine roster to nearly 30% with worldwide athletes?
Reply: Step one was to search for like-minded people. We’re in search of those that try for excellence within the pool, within the classroom and with a ardour for sports activities. Such athletes could be discovered worldwide, so we attempt to not restrict ourselves inside the nation. This focus has created an incredible program basis. Annually the extent of recruiting courses has been strengthened with key attributes that every one type a cohesive and optimistic crew.

GB: Faculty {and professional} swimmers in the identical exercise: What’s it value?
Reply: Each time the world’s greatest swimmers practice, it elevates everybody. That is very true in ASU. Faculty college students can study from the maturity of execs and their skill to beat the challenges of being an elite athlete. They usually study from the excessive degree that professionals convey to each day apply. When surrounded by extremely hardworking, quick swimmers day-after-day, apply rises to a a lot larger degree.

GB: You turned a crew captain and you’re massive on management. How do you discover management alternatives in your swimmers?
Reply: I need all the ladies on this crew to really feel like they’ve a say. And each Girl Satan, whether or not the chosen captain or not, can lead these round her in numerous methods. It is a problem. I’ve seen many younger ladies come out after graduating from highschool with out the arrogance to make use of their voices in a robust however optimistic method. So I attempt to discover small, on a regular basis methods to encourage that with our athletes. If each crew member makes use of their voice to push one another in direction of crew targets, there isn’t any restrict to what we are able to obtain.

SW: ASU acquired a self-mandatory redshirt 12 months throughout COVID. What have been the optimistic points?
Reply: The Redshirt determination was taken with many unknowns in regards to the virus. The motivation was easy: Defend our athletes. If somebody is sick, we wished our precedence to not really feel the necessity to return to the pool to get better and preserve the season. We all know much more now, however on the time we thought this was the easiest way to maintain our athletes protected, each bodily and mentally.

SW: …and negatives?
Reply: Athletes missed a 12 months of competitors. This has put just a few athletes again, particularly those that are simply studying to compete at an elite degree. There is no substitute for racing expertise, so we’re nonetheless attempting to meet up with just a few of our ladies.

SW: You consider in sturdy ladies out and in of the pool and are related to the Girls’s Coaches in USA Swimming’s Governance Program. We’re within the 18th month of this system, is the progress made by the committee encouraging you?
Reply: Each time USA works in direction of empowering and supporting ladies in swimming, teaching and governance, I really feel inspired. Nonetheless, there’s at all times extra work to do. I’m very optimistic for the longer term, with extra individuals following how it will likely be extra represented.

SW: Why insist on reheating your tuna and sprouts lunch within the coach’s workplace microwave if you’re nearer to dwelling?
Reply: SOME individuals have commented on how scrumptious this dish smells after being microwaved – not a lot, however somebody mentioned it as soon as. It might need been another person’s lunch they have been speaking about, now I am fascinated by it.

SW: Your daughter, Maddy, acquired the lead within the faculty musical. How did you transition into being a stage mother?
Reply: The excellent news for Maddy is that I do not know something about singing. I let my mother-in-law assist her put together for the upcoming present. As well as, functions are closed to oldsters. Maddy might be fairly proud of it!

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Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Degree 5 coach, golf and swimming creator. The critically acclaimed coming-of-age golf novel “Too A lot Loft” is in its second version and is accessible from retailer.Bookbaby.com, Amazon, B&N and distributors worldwide.

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