2017 World Championship team member
3-time SEC champion
Runner-up, 100 butterfly, 2016 NCAAs
Division I Academic All-American of the Year
A podium finish might capture the attention of talent scouts from the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour, but what maintains it is an athlete’s ability to explain exactly how he or she got there – especially in a way that will resonate with developing swimmers.
That’s because natural talent in the water doesn’t necessarily translate to being a great clinician and coach. Fitter & Faster is interested in the ones who learn to apply every tool available to them to become great.
And that’s why 2017 World Championship team member Sarah Gibson fits the bill. She possesses both the intellectual curiosity and perseverance to continue trying until her participants experience a breakthrough.
It is easy for participants to relate to Sarah, because her story is not one of instant success. Rather, it is one of developing resiliency through setbacks and learning new ways to approach her goals.
“My story as an athlete is not one of natural gifts,” the 2017 Texas A&M University graduate says. “My struggle to become the athlete I am today provided me with a better foundation with which to help developing swimmers.”
Sarah teaches participants to be patient and use setbacks as learning opportunities to achieve your goals down the road. In Sarah’s experience, a career-threatening rotator cuff tear swiftly took her to the bottom of the college recruiting totem pole. Instead of giving up, she listened to guidance from her coach and swam for Texas A&M under Coach Steve Bultman – the coach who drew out her true greatness.
Sarah had to focus on her weaknesses after the athletic trainers at A&M pointed out that her shoulder injuries stemmed from a weak core – a common problem in swimmers. As a distance freestyler and butterfly specialist, proper technique was a must to prevent further injury. Total body strength and athleticism is crucial to being a healthy, fast swimmer, and she incorporates core exercises into her clinics for proper body position in the water. These strengthening routines certainly pay off in the long run – they helped Sarah earn an individual SEC championship title in the 100 fly, a second place finish at NCAAs, and finished fifth a the 2016 Olympic Trials.
“During that year, I not only was physically able to perform, but I also found the self-confidence and serenity in myself that I needed to race. Swimming has, and mostly likely will remain, incredibly mental for me.”
Mental preparation and training are important for any athlete’s success, and Sarah teaches that the best way to have confidence in yourself is through experimenting with technique in practice and races. She breaks down the keys to technical proficiency in a logical progression that is easy for swimmers to follow: “Anything is possible with the precise and targeted application of one’s endeavors. Secondly, speed is a result of good technique that is consistently practiced.”
You can’t go wrong by building good training habits on top of confidence in your work ethic, and a clinic with Sarah provides a mental boost and much-needed perspective.
“It is so meaningful to see the ‘lightbulb’ moment in swimmers’ eyes. I’m so proud that I can give back to the sport. For these swimmers to see someone who has been to the Olympics and accomplished their dreams is an eye-opening experience – they can see that it’s possible for them as well!”
“Sarah Gibson and Shane Ryan were AMAZING!!!! Both of them seemed to know how to teach the skills in an effective way to that age group. It was also great to hear some of the things you wouldn’t normally hear from the coach. Em has learned proper eating with meets, but she has learned even more from the Q&A. It could be that they are younger and are currently still swimming, like the coach is the “parent” but they were the ‘friends.’” -Andie, from Raleigh, NC
“Excellent clinic I will definitely sign up for the next one. Clark Smith and Sarah Gibson were not only excellent swimmers but great coaches as well.” -Chad, from San Antonio, TX