New swim coach: Work hard; good things happen

Bob Smartt challenges Lady Panthers to up their game

Powell High School’s new Lady Panther swim coach Bob Smartt recently moved to Powell for the season. Prowl journalists were able to ask Smartt a few questions about himself. His responses follow.


Q: What sports did you play growing up?


A: I swam, played baseball, basketball and tennis but gravitated more to swimming when I had success in the sport. I swam for my high school and college teams.


Q: Other than teaching as a girls’ swim coach, is there any other notable jobs you’ve had throughout your life?

A: After graduate school, I worked for 16 years doing investment banking on Wall Street. While there I was the senior banker on $9 billion of financing for state and local governments. During the last 15 years I have been involved with providing growth capital for startup companies in Colorado. Some of these companies fail and the investors lose all of their money. Some of the companies do well and grow rapidly creating good jobs for employees. One of the companies I have been involved with has grown from eight employees to over 650 in the last 10 years. Several of the companies I have helped are in the medical field and are developing drugs that can save lives. One company VetDC has a cure for lymphoma in dogs that is starting to be used around the country.


Q: Have you had any accomplishments or notable experiences as an athlete?

A: I am in the Athletics Hall of Fame at the University of Chicago where I swam and played tennis as an undergraduate. In 1987 I swam the English Channel from England to France in 10 hours and 11 minutes.  The last three years I have placed 5th, 4th and 4th in my age group (60 to 64) at the US National Triathlon Championships. I had to miss the first meet of the swim season in August in order to compete in the World Aquabike Championships in Penticton British Columbia where I placed first in my age group and was 18th overall among the 360 athletes in the race. The race was a 3,000-meter swim (1.8 miles) followed by a 120-kilometer bike (74 miles).


Q: Have you had any accomplishments or notable experiences as a coach?

A: My high school swim teams have been state champion twice and second place nine times. Four times I have been selected as the Colorado High School Swim Coach of the Year. Last year my girls swim team at Fairview High School in Colorado was ranked 15th nationally in the dual meet rankings compiled by the Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association


Q: Are you enjoying being a coach for the Powell Girl’s Swim Team?

A: I really enjoy coaching the Panthers. In Colorado I have 115 athletes and five assistant swim coaches and two dive coaches. Everything in Colorado is much more complicated including having 40 club athletes who swim with six different club swim programs, each having coaches that are not always supportive of high school swimming. It is great in Powell to have 20 athletes on the team and to have all 20 at practice. That never happens in Colorado as it would be impossible to fit 115 athletes in a 6-lane pool. And the club coaches want their athletes to practice with the club team, not the high school team. Due to oil and gas revenue, the swimming pools are much nicer in Wyoming


Proper nutrition, sleep and a positive mindset are important factors for an athlete who wants to maximize her potential.”

— Bob Smartt, Lady Panther swim coach

Q: What are your goals for the team this year?

A: Last year the team finished 6th at State, it would be nice this year to bring home a team trophy from State which would mean placing in the top 4 teams. Another goal was to have 15 of our 20 athletes be state qualifiers and able to swim at State. Five weeks into the season we are at 14 state qualifiers so I need to revise that goal.  I am very pleased with the large number of personal best times that our athletes are achieving at our swim meets.


Q: Are there any challenges you’ve had so far being with a new team? If so, what exactly are those challenges?

A: There are different traditions and mindsets in Wyoming that I need to learn and to respect. I have instituted a new type of training that is based on the latest sports science concerning high intensity training. We do not do a large amount of yardage in practice but we do ask the athletes to swim extremely fast for short distances. We actually ask the athletes to swim until they reach a point of failure and to then take a short break Sometimes I become frustrated when athletes do not swim at the intensity that the training program requires in order to be successful.


Q: It’s been said that the girls are training extremely hard this year. What are your main focuses as you coach the team?

A: For maximum success, our athletes need to be in the water every 48 hours or less, so illness and family vacations impede the success of the training program.  It may be difficult for some of our older athletes to adjust to a new training program and a new coach.