National Champion in the 4 x 100 Freestyle Relay in 2012 for the University of Texas
Placing 4th in the 200 IM at the 2015 US National Championships, making the US National Team for the 3rd time.
“Success is a concept. People are real.” –Austin Surhoff
For Austin Surhoff, swimming has always been about the bonds of friendship forged from countless chlorinated days at practice: “We have a unique sport built on hard work and spending thousands of hours with the same people, so we are fierce friends with each other.”
With such strong relational bonds through swimming, Austin Surhoff is sure to make his clinic a hands-on, family partnership experience. He becomes an ally not only with the swimmers, bot also with the parents: “Swim parents are just as important as the kids at these clinics. They are there to learn as well and deserve thoughtful engagement as much as the kids do.”
In the competitive world, Surhoff could hardly dodge success with his 6’4” frame and a thirst for constant improvement. He credits the North Baltimore as well as the University of Texas programs for making him a student of the strokes. Both programs are widely recognized meccas of swimming knowledge and expertise. “Technique is the best part of swimming to me. Each kid who comes to a Fitter and Faster clinic can walk away with one or two little stroke tips to move forward with,” Surhoff says. “Those tips will be trained every single day in practice and can have a major impact on his or her technique moving forward.”
He hopes to impart the value of perseverance through all sorts of trials swimmers can face, referencing his 2012 National Champion title in the 400 freestyle relay against the odds of his team under-performing throughout the meet. “It was an awesome example of toughness in the face of defeat and still inspires me to this day to hang tough and compete even when everything is going wrong.”
Surhoff has experienced every step an athlete can take through a swimming career and is able to empathize with nearly anyone he works with. “I have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows…I have seen and felt it all in swimming, which gives me a level of understanding that can be applied to a wide range of people’s experiences.”
Austin’s effective communication skills particularly engage kids on their level: “I learned from my own experiences that kids love when they are respectfully engaged by the adults whom they value as authorities. Growing up I was a prideful kid and always connected better with younger coaches who trusted me to speak with them in a mature way.”
He particularly empathizes with swimmers who have battled injuries. After several months out of the water doing rehab after shoulder surgery in 2013, fear and doubt crept into his mind about his future in swimming. But as all greats do, he kept his nose down and completed the work needed not only to recover, but also to better his time and qualify for the US National Team in 2015 in the 200 IM.
If swimmers remember only one thing from his clinic, this would be it: “Success isn’t one big step that you all of the sudden just take; it’s a thousand little steps taken over a long period of time. We are in a sport that charts success based on a couple big meets a year, and I want every kid to know that they can chart their own success every day in practice and in meets.”