Written By: Steve Lazaraton
I loved the scene in the new Spiderman movie where one Spiderman calls out another Spiderman in the way he was speaking to himself and I reflected on the culture I’ve built on our team.
Our words matter. They carry weight with our swimmers whether they are positive or negative. I remember hurtful comments a coach made to me in passing almost 35 years ago. I also remember with joy, the comments of a coach in my life that saw something I didn’t see in myself, the words of encouragement, the words of hope, the words of positivity.
Our role as coaches is to help our swimmers be their best. The best swimmer they can be as well as the best version of themselves they can be. And we help them through the journey of being the best by choosing our words carefully.
I choose to be positive on the pool deck. I choose to be encouraging, to give positive feedback, to find the gold in each of my swimmers as they reach for their goals. When there is conflict, I choose to not react in the moment (a huge change from the younger version of myself!) as I know the words I speak can either help or hurt. I defer for a time so I can choose the best words to speak to help facilitate growth.
There is power in positivity. There is life in positivity. And I want to be consistently positive in my team’s experience.
Steve Lazaraton was hired in January 2019 as the first head coach of swimming and diving at Simpson University. A former All-America swimmer at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, Lazaraton has built an extensive coaching resume over the last two decades-plus at the high school and USA Swimming club levels in Florida, Alabama, and California. Lazaraton also competed on the University of Florida club swimming team while completing his undergraduate degree. He served as the senior assistant coach for The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. for 16 seasons from 2001-16. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, three former Bolles student-athletes, all who trained under Lazaraton in some capacity, earned six Gold medals. He served there under the mentoring of head coach Jon Sakovich, current Virginia Tech head coach Sergio Lopez-Miro, and current University of Florida head women's coach Jeff Poppell. At those same Rio Games, two of his former swimmers turned in record-setting performances. Ryan Murphy (USA) set a world record in the 100m backstroke, and Joseph Schooling (Singapore) set an Olympic record in the 100m butterfly.Over the last 22 years, swimmers under his coaching have earned 4 high school team national championships, 6 national high school individual event records, and 32 state high school team titles (boys and girls). Since relocating to California, Lazaraton has spent three seasons as head coach of the Shasta YMCA Sharks (formerly SOAR), a community-based program leading swimmers at the national and state championship levels. Lazaraton has also served as an adjunct instructor at Simpson teaching classes in Calculus and Algebra since 2017. He graduated from the University of Florida (1995) with a degree in geology. He also earned a Master's degree from the University of Florida (1996) in Science Education. Lazaraton and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of Sophia and Chloe, and reside in Redding.