Coach Richard Shoulberg Fights For All In The Open Water

Coach Richard Shoulberg Fights For All In The Open Water

The call is every coach’s nightmare. The call, in fact, is unimaginable. “Your athlete was not found for two hours. He passed away.”

Unreal. Unbelievable.

This communication, so unfortunately real, was relayed by officials to Hall of Fame coach Richard Shoulberg of the Germantown Academy in October 2010.

Since 1905, this kind of call never been necessary in any of the five disciplines of FINA – not in the pool, not off a diving board, not with water polo players and not with synchronized swimming teams. Not until that fateful day in Dubai when a young man was taken away.

And the calamity could not have happened to a more passionate, sincerely devoted coach. A coach who has breathed more chlorinated air that, arguably, any other human on the planet.

Like his tragically befallen athlete, Coach Shoulberg is a true gem of a human. He is the kind of person you want as a coach, neighbor, mentor and friend.

He is the unique Olympic swimming coach who has trained world record holders and developed 11 Olympians. Yet he is also that same world-class coach who continues to teach young children at the Germantown Academy how to swim. Each athlete to him is a special person with reams of potential to swim fast, do good and be good. Coach Shoulberg is the kind of person who makes you believe you can swim out of your mind…and has the passion to wake up early in the morning to open the pool and pace the decks. His team is his family and the pool deck is his benevolent domain.

His beacon has always shone brightly with a steadfast moral compass, looking beyond the pool and open water to create champions of life. He is able to channel the unbridled energy of young men and develop the unlimited potential of young women, shaping them to both confident and humble. To smile in victory and be congratulatory in defeat.

But his mission in life in the aftermath of Fran’s death has broadened. “There is never a day that does not go by since Fran’s death that I have not tried to make open water safe for all athletes from all nations.”

As race directors around the world have made safety a top priority for all, Coach Shoulberg’s mission is paying off real, concrete dividends.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones