Written By: Steve Lazaraton
An administrator once asked what I’d like to see for the swim team and I explained the desire to build a 10 lane 25 yard x 25 meter indoor pool where the current softball field was located. When asked about softball, I simply said that it could go on the roof of the new pool structure. He looked at me and commented on the loftiness of my dream. I replied with a smile, “if it’s not big, it’s not a dream.”
One of the best quotes I’ve heard is, “if your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough!” Unfortunately, we are too often discouraged from dreaming big. We find our dreams unrealistic, unobtainable, too difficult to achieve. But everything that has been achieved started with a dream. Someone thought that the impossible was possible and made it so.
Truth is, I am a dreamer at heart. I love looking at life with a “how to make it possible” attitude. For example, as COVID shut down swimming for an unknown amount of time (as we walked through the spring of 2020), I explored the idea of building a 3 lane 25 yard pool along the hillside in our backyard. The reality was it could be engineered but would cost approximately $500,000 (not in my current budget!)
As coaches, one of our jobs is to inspire our athletes to dream. To teach them to see beyond the present and to “shoot for the stars.” How do we inspire?
By giving our swimmers opportunities to achieve the impossible!
Doing a legal start off the block for the first time
Competing in an “impossible” event for the first time
Qualifying for the first meet with standards
Every four years, young swimmers come into our programs with dreams of being an Olympian. Based on the statistics from last year where 53 swimmers out of the approximately 400,000 competing in USA Swimming represented our country in the Olympics, it is a long shot. But it is possible! It all starts with a dream.
I’ve been approached by parents of 8 year olds who ask how their kids can make the Olympics or whether their 8 year old is talented enough to make the team. We all know that there is no predictor at that age but without the dream, the impossible will never become possible. So I tell them that’s a great goal to have! We will be excited as they progress from one level to the next and our team’s goal is for the thriving 8 year old to become a thriving 18 year old and we will walk the ups and downs of the journey with them.
John Maxwell wrote, “I believe we’re at a time in our culture where we need people who can engage and inspire others to see more than just the problems before us—we need people who see the possibilities within the problems.”
One of the greatest gifts we can give to our swimmers is to teach them that the pursuit of their dreams is worthy and we will honor their dreams by helping them make the impossible possible.
There is power in possibility!
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.