Get to Know: Tsunami Coach Carolyn Skowyra
Published April 12, 2017
This past February, when the gun fired at the Colorado Girls Swimming & Diving State finals, four former members of the Silverthorne Tusnami were on the block. Stephanie Schulman, Logan Simson, Katerina Lee, and Abbey Lau, now members of the Summit High School Swim Team, competed in a 200 medley relay during the first ever 3A State Championship, the first Summit High School relay team to make it to State in 16 years. A big feat for a community swim club, the girls finished in 21st place overall, and the Town of Silverthorne could not be more proud of these amazing athletes who got their swimming start, right here in Silverthorne.
The Silverthorne Pulse caught up with Tsunami head coach, Carolyn Skowyra, to learn more about her program, how she motivates young swimmers, and how she spends her time away from the pool.
Tell us how you came to be head coach for the Tsunami.
I joined the Tsunami coaching staff in June of 2013 as an assistant coach. My older sister, Meaghan, was the head coach at that time. She had been coaching the Tsunami for a couple years and I was interested in getting involved. We grew up swimming together in New Hampshire, then moved to Summit County together in 2009. It felt very natural to coach together because we came from the same program and have a similar understanding of what coaching is and looks like. She moved back East at the end of that first summer, and I took on the head coaching role.
Can you share some background on the team’s recent success?
The biggest shift I’ve implemented as the head coach is a move away from your typical “sets” (a certain number of repeats of a specific distance on a timed interval) and have embraced more of a “do what you can in the allotted time” for each skill focus. This allowed us to make little changes that the swimmers can focus on, rather than worrying about how much time they are going to have to rest at the wall.
As the kids get older we transition them into more traditional swim practices, that focus on using the clock, following intervals, and controlling output. I think our approach puts less pressure on the kids and allows them to continue loving the sport. When they love doing it, they stick with the program.
The reason our team has been successful is that we have a group of kids that love swimming and love coming to the pool, year after year, to work hard with their friends.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I don’t think I have a hard and fast philosophy yet. I do have a set of objectives that I try to achieve with each session of Swim Club: 1) each swimmer will be proficient in all four strokes, 2) teach an efficient and effective technique centered around core strength development, 3) create an attitude within the team that “100%” is an individual measure and a choice that each swimmer makes at every practice, for every set, and for each length of the pool, and finally 4) each swimmer will improve, and have fun doing it.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your team?
We welcome anyone! Any kid, any age, who loves to swim, wants to be a swimmer, and can do freestyle for one length of the pool.
What brought you Silverthorne?
My sister, Meaghan, and I came here on a whim. Arapahoe Basin was the first ski area that offered us both a job, so we moved here, having never even visited Colorado.
What are the top three things you love about living in Summit County?
I love the magic that you feel and see when the sun is rising and setting over the mountains, I love the way people approach life in Summit County, and I love the weather each and every day.
What’s your favorite way to spend the day in Silverthorne?
I love walking or running along the river on the Rec Path. When I’m on the Rec Path I like to imagine a future where the Rec Path is the primary route folks take to get around; a bridge to get here, a picnic spot there, a pedestrian superhighway around Silverthorne.
In addition to coaching the Tsunami, what do you do for work?
I work in Human Resources for the Town of Silverthorne, sit on the Dillon Town Council, babysit on weekends, and fit in as many volunteer hours as I can between Mountain Mentors and Summit County 4-H.
What do you do when you’re not working or at the pool?
Everything I can! For fitness, I like to ski, both Nordic and alpine, and I set goals for miles to run every week. In the summer, I ride my road bike as much as I can and play disk golf. I also love backpacking with my husband, reading and enjoy fiber art (sewing, knitting, weaving, woodworking, etc., basically anything I can do with my hands to create something else).
Favorite hiking trail or bike ride?
I love the Gore Range! I don’t spend a ton of time on the actual Gore Range Trail, but I love being back in the hard to reach zones- you can go days without seeing another person, and the scenery is often like something out of Jurassic Park. As for biking, you can’t beat a quick loop around the lake, or the exhilaration of flying down Vail Pass.
To learn more about the Silverthorne Tsunami and how to get involved, click here.