Meet the Coach: Steven Contarsy
Coach Steven Contarsy leads the Santa Monica College swim team. In this interview he sits down with The Corsair to discuss his career, highlights and what to expect come spring semester. How many years have you been coaching at SMC?
This is the middle of my 16th year here at SMC. I’m in the middle of my 47th year of coaching swimming and sports.
How would you describe your time here at SMC?
I really feel [that] I'm fortunate to be here at Santa Monica College. I've had a tremendous experience here getting to know the SMC community. It was actually quite serendipity how I found out about the job in the first place and that I'd be sitting here and saying that I'm basically two and a half years away from completing my fiftieth year of coaching is really a surreal experience.
What do you look for in an athlete?
Well here at the collegiate level I'm looking for fundamentals, technique, speed is obviously a priority because we are trying to build a championship swim team. Does a swimmer in our case have fundamentals in terms of being able to perform the strokes. In water polo, have a basic understanding of the game of water polo basic fundamentals of egg beater-ing, passing, shooting, movement, court awareness.
What is your swimming philosophy?
Anyone is welcome anyone and everyone is welcome. There is always a place for everyone on the team everyone will have their purpose somewhere throughout the season.
What is a typical day at practice?
Our workouts go approximately 2 hours. The total distance will vary somewhere between 5,000 and 8000 yards in that time frame, practice is always pretty much structured the same way. Start off with a nice moderate warm-up about 1,500 yards. We'll have a main set usually the main set is any distance between 50 yards and 500 yards and it'll be somewhere in the 3,000 to 3,500 yard range.
What effect do your international swimmers have on the SMC swim team?
Our international swimmers have a wide range, but most of them come here because they were 1) they contacted me directly 2) they are here for the program they understand the program, they understand the challenges of the program, they understand the expectations of the program and 3) coming from their country most of our international athletes are usually national caliber athletes in their respective country.
How do you bring community attention to the program?
I can say we’ve been successful throughout my career here at SMC. We’ve finished as high as fourth at the state championships and on average we’re usually a top ten team at the state. I guarantee you on campus there is another 60, or 70, or maybe 100 men and women on the campus who all have high level or collegiate level high school level swimming and water polo experience and won't come out for the team part. That is that they want to say they are focusing on academics. It has been proven time and time again that the aquatic athletes and those who have to do both focus on academics and focus on a sport are usually the ones most successful.