From tree pose to the perfect flip turn, there’s a new face on the pool deck this spring. New swim coach Victoria Fernandez brings her multiple talents to the team.
Fernandez assumed the position of PHS swim coach on Feb. 6. She has six years of high school swim team coaching experience, having coached for Convent & Stuart Hall High Schools in San Francisco.
Fernandez is also a certified yoga instructor, and said that she hopes to implement her skills into daily practices.
“I believe in the mind-body component to sports; swimming and yoga can go together,” Fernandez said. “I want to have swimmers feel strong when they’re in the water.”
Fernandez did not swim in college, but has been swimming competitively all her life. She currently works at the Claremont Country Club, coaching their master’s team.
“[The swim team] has had new coaches every year I have swam and I think our new head coach, Victoria, is a great fit for our team,” Bott said.
Fernandez said she hopes to build a successful swim program and continue to make a competitive team and a fun experience.
“This has only been our first week of tryouts, but I’m excited to see where it can go, and what the possibilities are,” Fernandez said at the beginning of the season.
Bott said she is already impressed with Fernandez’s skills as a new coach.
“She is very organized and on top of everything that needs to be done to get our team on the right track,” Bott said. “Her workouts are challenging and she gives swimmers plenty of feedback to improve their swimming technique.”
Junior Annika Disney said she has also noticed Fernandez’s organization and flexibility.
“I think [Fernandez] and this team have a lot of potential, so I am excited to see what will happen,” Disney said.
Fernandez said she believes the team will be super strong this year and was impressed with the turnout for tryouts.
“We had a huge turnout this past week, we had well over 60 people that were interested in swim team,” Fernandez said. “The practices have been crowded.”
Fernandez has lots of gear to help the swimmers improve their technique, such as paddles, pull buoys, kick boards, and fins, Bott said.
Fernandez also said the women’s team is already looking especially strong.
“We had over 40 girls come out, with many strong swimmers,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez also notices that many of the women swimmers are water polo players as well, and sees both positives and negatives in that.
“Clearly the balance of water polo and swimming strengthens aspects to both sports,” Fernandez said. “I want to establish that swimming doesn’t have to be a ‘side-sport’ to water polo, and that kids can be strong in both areas.”
Every kid should be improving in practice, regardless of the coach, Disney said.
“Whether or not you have been swimming since day one, everyone should be improving through her instruction,” Disney said.
A big swim team for a small school was surprising, Fernandez said.
“The swim seems really strong, which is great,” Fernandez said. “I’m trying to come in with an open mind, and not necessarily drastically change anything.”
Both Disney and Bott say they don’t have any drastic expectations for the swim season, but hope everyone will improve.
“Change is never easy at first, but I am very excited for a new coach and a new year,” Disney said.
Although only her first week in, Fernandez said she’s excited to see what the future holds, and how far she can take the team.
“I’m happy to be here,” Fernandez said.