Andy Carlisle is Swim Coach of the Year

The Tigard Tualatin Swim Club coach is recognized for coaching nationally ranked swimmers
by: Jaime Valdez, UNDERWATER JOB — The Tigard Swim Center is Andy Carlisle’s home away from home, as he coaches swim club swimmers almost 18 hours a week in addition to coaching the THS swim team and teaching lessons at the Tualatin Swim Center.

TIGARD - During one of Andy Carlisle's Tigard Tualatin Swim Club practice sessions at the Tigard Swim Center, the water in the pool is a bubbling cauldron as some kids swim laps while others rest or wait their turn.

Despite more than two dozen bodies in the water, Carlisle keeps track of the individual swimmers, calling out over the bedlam to relay instructions or pointers to the kids.

Carlisle spends his days in the warm, moist air of both the Tigard and Tualatin swim centers, teaching lessons at Tualatin in the mornings and then coaching the THS swim team plus kids in the Tigard Tualatin Swim Club in the afternoon.

For his efforts, the Oregon Swimming Coaches Association, which includes almost all of the 60 clubs in Oregon, recently named Carlisle the Coach of the Year.

'I knew I was nominated, and I found out I won at the awards reception,' Carlisle said. 'I've been nominated quite a few times. I was joking that I was the Susan Lucci of swim coaches.

'There are usually about five nominated coaches each year. If you have a swimmer at the national level, you get nominated. I have a former student in the Olympic Trials and a girl who qualified. To get to that level, kids have to have the talent and commitment plus the coaching.'

Carlisle, who received a plaque for winning, said that he was surprised. 'I'm not a big fan of the award thing,' he said.

Club swimming is open to kids ages 6 to 18, and Carlisle coaches the kids who are 13 or older.

He started swimming when he was in the ninth grade - 'Someone talked me into it,' he said. 'I was terrible. Most of the kids I coach start better than I was.'

Carlisle, who swam in both high school and college, was a physical education major at Portland State University and got his first coaching job at Aloha High School.

He's been at THS for about 10 years, coaching a lot of kids each day. There are 50 on the THS swim team, which competes between November and February.

Carlisle is one of four coaches for the 120 club members, and he coaches about 25 of them.

'I'm probably in the water 1½ hours a day but at the pool many, many hours,' he said.

Club swimming is open to anyone, and the Tigard Tualatin Swim Club includes students from not only Tigard and Tualatin but also Wilsonville, Sherwood and Beaverton.

Students compete in various distances in four strokes - backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly stroke plus the freestyle competition in which they can swim any stroke they choose.

'Club swimming is at a higher level than high school swimming,' Carlisle said. 'Club swimmers swim 17½ hours a week. They have 11 sessions scheduled. Almost all the club kids are on the high school team.

'They're impressive kids. Just about every year, there is a valedictorian among them and honor students. They're way smarter than I was in high school.'

The two swim centers are pretty much always in use, according to Carlisle. 'We're pretty crowded all over,' he said.

When the announcement was made that Carlisle was Coach of the Year, he said that the other coaches congratulated him.

'When I told my kids, I told them that they have to listen to me now, but they didn't,' he added.