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Blog guest: Mate Ružić

Our new Swimming Dad blog guest is one of the best young coaches at the moment in Croatia. Already two of his young swimmers achieved A standards for Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. His name is Mate Ružić! From his perspective and experience find out: Do all good swimmers become good coaches? What’s his greatest success as a coach? Also, we asked him to give one good advice to all swimmers who one day planning to become coaches.

What is the thing all swimmers should know if they want to become good coaches?

To become a coach, the swimmer who is thinking of becoming a coach one day, has to understand very well all the tasks given to him/her by his/her own coach. To be aware of the effort, to feel the “pain” but also the comfort and be ready to give the last atom of his/her strength for a new challenge in or out of the water.

If you want to change the role of a swimmer for the role of a coach, it’s necessary that you first have a swimming career and learn to be “humble” if necessary, and learn how to deal with victories and defeats, but also to be eager to continue with your trainings. Because swimming is the sport you have chosen, and if you want to be a coach, you should get the team spirit and be a friend, work together with others, and win, but also know how to deal with defeats. Trust me, with swimming and swimmers you will become a better person, of healthy habits, and you will gain the work discipline and be more responsible.

Does it mean that a good swimmer can also be a good coach?

No. It doesn’t mean that a top swimmer can be a top coach, and vice versa. There are plenty of different examples in the world of swimming. So, from my experience that’s not a rule.

How much has your professional swimming career helped you in your work as a coach, and how much has it made your work as a coach more difficult?

Being a swimmer, still not that great one, has helped me a lot in my work as a coach. If I had to choose my career again, I would like to go through the same process – the same swimming and coaching career. To be honest, I wouldn’t make any changes. From today’s perspective, all that swimming experience I have has helped me a lot in my career as a coach. Thanks to swimming, I have a better understanding of some things now when I observe them from the pool’s edge than when I observed them when I was in the pool.

What’s your dearest success as a coach?

One of my dearest successes is definitely visiting Berkeley in 2006 to work with the coach Mike Bottom. He taught me a lot of details about the swimming techniques. Then back in 2009, I went to Split and that also had a big impact on my coaching career. Mike Bottom was pleasantly surprised to see my swimmers in a training, and he said: “It’s the first time that I’ve seen swimmers in a small town like this being technically this brilliant without imitating the moves, but swimming with ease”. I was very proud.

After that, the success stories ensued: Karlo Noah Paut won a bronze medal in EJP in 2016 from HODMEZOVASARHELI at 100 freestyle with the score of 49.61 as a 16-year-old; then Marin Mogić in 2017 in Israel, Netania, won a bronze medal for 800 freestyle with the score of 8:01.42, with unforgettable assistance of his colleague Goran Grahovac.

All the efforts and all my previous experience “paid off” in 2019 when two of my swimmers achieved the A norm in 1500 and 800 freestyle, for the OG in Tokyo in 2020: Marin Mogić born in 1999 and Franko Grgić born in 2003.

A piece of advice you would like to give to future coaches, ex swimmers?

Coach only if you really love what you do. If you love transferring your knowledge, and making young swimmers, coaching is for you. You won’t find it difficult, even when the circumstances are, and when you need to do some volunteer work for a while. Because every job, coaching included, should be your pleasure first, and the profit comes the second. Don’t coach after you finish your swimming career only because you don’t have other choices. Neither you nor the swimmers will enjoy it. Once you feel that water and swimming are part of your everyday life, that you have them in you blood, giving you the reason to hope for a better future, then go for coaching. If you don’t have it, you’re just wasting your time.


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