New Canaan's Betsy Matheney, junior age group swim coach for the Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat Swim Team, has been named Connecticut Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year for 2011-12. Matheney, who will be honored at CSI's Top 16 Banquet in November, was chosen by her fellow coaches at this summer's Long Course Age Group Championship.
Matheney recently completed her third year with the Water Rat Swim Team, whose 200 young swimmers compete locally and in regional and national competitions in both short course and long course meets. She also serves as the aquatics director and swim coach at Whippoorwill Club in Armonk, NY, and previously taught and coached at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"I am so excited that Betsy has been recognized for her hard work and dedication as a leader and role model with our swim team," said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. "Our swimmers and their parents love having her as their coach, which makes her a wonderful representative of the staff here at the Family Y. She takes her job very seriously and understands the important role that our coaches play in balancing the competitive aspects of swimming with the goal of making sure everyone has fun and is motivated to swim their personal best each time they enter the pool."
This is the second year in a row that a Family Y Water Rat coach has been named Coach of the Year. Head Age Group Coach Mark Sedlak received the honor for 2010-2011.
"That Mark won last year was wonderful and well-deserved, and I'm really proud to receive the award this year," Matheney said.
For Matheney, this is actually the second "coach of the year" award she's earned over her 40-year career as a coach and teacher. Matheney, who grew up in Westchester County and now lives in New Canaan, was a longtime coach at the prestigious Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, where she coached more than 60 athletes in the school's hall of fame, in six sports.
"I got the first award for coaching cross country," Matheney said. "I don't know how to run at all -- my sport is swimming. What can I say? I love to coach."
As was the case last year with Sedlak's honors, it's not hard to find enthusiastic support for Matheney as a swim coach and mentor.
"Betsy has coached all three of my kids and helped each one to realize their swimming potential," Sydney Hunter said. "Betsy's unique ability to coach, and respect, the `whole child' is a breath of fresh air in today's hyper-competitive world of youth sports. Not only do my children consider Betsy to be an awesome coach, perhaps more important, they consider her a great friend."
Adds Nicole Turechek, the Family Y's Aquatics Director: "Coach Betsy is a real joy to work with; she is hard working and really cares about what she does. Every day during the swim season there was at least one or more of her Water Rat swimmers popping into the office to say hi or joke around with Betsy. You can tell that the swim team kids really value her."
"My coaching philosophy is one that emphasizes integrity, honor, respect and fun," Matheney said. "Especially when you're working with younger age-group swimmers, you have to have fun."
"I want my kids to be well-rounded people," said Matheney, who was a multi-event All-American swimmer in both high school and college. "If they're good swimmers, that's great, but I want them to be good in school and to be good at whatever they want to do in life. That's how I approach both my coaching and teaching."
One-day tryouts for the 2012-13 Water Rat team will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Thursday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. Parents can register their children online at www.westporty.org before coming to the pool or can register on the day at the door. Participants may choose which day to attend. Tryouts cost $25. For more information, contact head coach Ellen Johnston at 203-226-8981, ext. 110, or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the tryouts, the coaches will have the children swim at least one length of each of the four competitive strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle).
"If they do not know how to properly swim all four strokes, don't worry," Johnston said. "Many of our swimmers start on the team with a vague knowledge of the strokes, then learn as they go."
For more information about the Water Rat Swim Team, visit www.westporty.org wrat.org.