Jetting out 600 feet into Connecticut’s Thames River, in New London, Conn., is Jacobs Rock. This three story sailing center—containing classrooms, offices, locker rooms, over 80 boats, and more—is home base to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Varsity Sailing Team.
Jacobs Rock is a five-minute walk from the cadet’s dorms and this close proximity is one of the factors that allow the team to have productive practices four days a week.
“Our sailors have several other commitments outside of just school, which definitely affects the way we do business,” says head sailing coach Brian Swingly. Due to the limited amount of practice time the sailors have each day, Swingly and the rest of the coaching staff – assistant coach Chris Klevan and director of sailing Doug Clark – make sure to take advantage of it.
“We make up for [limited practice time] by having a very detailed and organized practice plan to maximize our efficiency on the water,” explains Swingly. The cadets are a hard working group of people who hold themselves to a high standard both on and off of the water and Swingly finds them to be “far and away the best thing about coaching at Coast Guard.”
“Every student at the Academy was at the top of their class, is intrinsically motivated, and is hoping to make a difference while serving their country,” he says. Swingly joined the coaching staff eight years ago as an assistant coach and has since moved up to take on the head position. He would like to see the team com- pete in all of the intercollegiate national championships, but more specifically continue to succeed in singlehanded championships, finish top five in the coed championship, and win a women’s national title. “[A women’s national title] is a big goal of ours and I think doable in the next four years,” he says.
The team is also focusing on building their team racing culture and playbook, “Coast Guard had gotten away from team racing for many years due to the limited amount of time to truly focus on it,” says Swingly. They got their first taste for team racing success this past year when they won The Admiral Moore Trophy, the Academy’s first inter-conference team race regatta win in over 15 years.