After 80% of the attendees at this weekend’s swim meet cleared out, San Diego Seaport Aquatics (SDSA) Coach Paul Folts, remains to speak about the program. In the smaller pool on the side, float-toys bop around, water foot prints can still be noticed on the concrete, and our interview is interrupted every few minutes as another child can’t fathom leaving without giving Coach Paul a high five or a hug and hearing quick feedback.
San Diego Seaport Aquatics hosted their first meet this weekend at Coronado High School’s Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Complex (BBMAC) pool. The team practices six nights a week at BBMAC and has swimmers ranging in age from 6-18, many of whom are Coronado locals. SDSA Head Coach Paul Folts is also the head coach of the Coronado High School swim team.
Coach Paul trains the swim team at the BBMAC pool and confirmed that the water polo teams use it as well. SDSA pays to rent the space, a partnership Coach Paul raves about, “we love that we can be in an amazing facility like this. We know how big swimming is in Coronado and we want to help it continue to grow.” At the time of this article Coronado Swim Association (CSA) still lists practices on their website at both BBMAC and Coronado Community Center.
Established in 2018, San Diego Seaport Aquatics offers competitive swim training and instruction. There is crossover with the current Coronado swim team while simultaneously highlighting the diversity in swimmers. Coach Paul elaborates, “we have kids from Chula Vista, Point Loma, Mission Valley, Coronado. It’s fun to have different people and the diversity, and find the commonalty in swimming.” Diversity seems to be the theme in SDSA, extending to the coaches themselves. Coach Paul explains, “from the coaching side there is no set group that each one of us works with. We rotate around and are with them the entire way. This helps them see a different perspective and receive diverse feedback. It also helps us as coaches too, we work on the basics as well as advance strategies, it keeps us fresh and helps them from every angle”.
Another way SDSA differentiates itself is bringing back the fun – like the pool toys! Coach Paul shares, “It’s about the experience and community – the love of sport. It’s about racing hard but enjoying it.” At one point during the interview, a student comes up and hands him a squirt gun. Commenting on that, Coach Paul laughs, “It’s for when kids are getting too serious to remind them that this is what initially got you in the water. You can be good at swimming, but the enjoyment is what started it.” SDSA even used a hashtag for their first hosted meet – #MAKESWIMMEETSFUNAGAIN
When Coach Paul and his two cofounders began SDSA he shared that his goal was to have fifty students enrolled by the end of the year, they surpassed that goal in the first three months. For Coach Paul, students in the water is only one aspect of why he started SDSA. “Things you learn in practice is like training for the rest of your life. When you get stuck you work through it. It’s that feeling like you can accomplish anything.”
Swim student Sarah shares, “He’s a good coach. He gives really good feedback.” Swim student JJ adds, “He really cares about us.” Coach Paul compliments back, “the kids are crushing it. It all comes back to them and their hard work.” The hard work has already been validated, within just its first year of competition, SDSA had Top 5 team finishes at the Winter Age Group Championships and both the Short & Long Course Junior Olympics, as well as having multiple Far Western, Zone, and Futures Championship qualifiers.
To learn more about San Diego Seaport Aquatics, visit their website.