When Head Coach Gary Taylor took over the Auburn Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving program in May of 2018, he had a clear vision of what he wanted his new team to accomplish. For him, there is more to being a champion than fast times and personal bests. In Gary’s eyes, the swim season is more a marathon than a sprint and elite swimmers should not only have the physical attributes to perform at the highest level, but also the sustained mental and emotional strength to rise against the inevitable challenges in this sport.
When asked about his new home, the head coach said he immediately fell in love with Auburn University. Every level of the school, from the outgoing student community to the welcoming staff has made his transition from NC State to Auburn a smooth and positive one.
“If you could dream a university and the way it should look and feel, you’d basically dream Auburn,” said Gary.
With a willing batch of student-athletes surrounding him, Gary set to work on implementing his short and long-term goals for his new team. He and his staff focused on developing a “championship culture”. This positive, go-getter environment is the foundation of the attitude and mindset the Tigers strive for every day, both in and out of the pool. Gary is confident that this is a key ingredient to his team’s short and long-term success.
“It’s about setting the tone, from a staff standpoint, on a daily basis about who we are, what we are going to be, and what we are working towards,” said the coach.
This championship mindset is also reflected back on the coaching staff by the Auburn swimmers themselves. It is a two-way street. According to Gary, a championship team should consist of coaches willing to teach and student-athletes willing to learn. Not only does Coach Taylor and his staff work on improving the athletes’ swim techniques and times, but they also focus on nurturing their swimmers’ mental fortitude and developing them as “people” first, giving them the tools they need as individuals to succeed outside the pool. In Gary’s vision, champions should strive to reach their most elite potential, both as athletes and as human beings.
“Championship culture comes from championship character,” Gary explains.
Once the vision and unwavering belief of a championship team is established, both the staff and the swimmers work together like a well-oiled machine. The willingness to be a champion should be a daily ambition and, in Gary’s mind, the more athletes that carry this attitude with them in their daily lives, the better. Gary looks for this mindset not only in his current swimmers but also in prospective athletes and recruits. It is crucial to the success of the program as a whole that future team members share and respect his championship vision.
Gary knows that the Auburn swim program has proven itself in the past. With his coaching staff and athletes’ shared vision of the future, he is confident that the future will be bright for the Tiger faithful.