Star Wars came out 38 years ago and it’s a movie that shaped a generation, including countless swim coaches who still look to Yoda as the ultimate coaching model.

Justin Correia

Coach Justin Correia, Southwest Stars:

The first time I saw the original Star Wars movie was in the early 80s. I was born the year it came out, so I didn’t see the first one in the movie theaters. I actually remember seeing the first one as a TV special event on a Saturday night. It was the first time it was aired on TV other than movies or BETA. 

I remember being so excited to see it because I had some Star Wars toys already, so I knew about the characters, I just hadn’t seen the movie yet. My eyes were glued to the TV and I didn’t want to leave the room even during the commercials. Since then I have been a huge Star Wars fan, and I even use a scene from The Empire Strikes Back with my swimmers about the biggest fear we have is ourselves (the scene with Luke Skywalker going into the cave when he is training with Yoda).

My favorite character growing up was Chewbacca…but now…Yoda is the man. Much from him I have learned.

Yoda swimming

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.


Coach Charlie Rose, Blue Dolfins:

Kids nowadays find it hard to believe but the special effects and technology in the first one was incredible to our generation. My kids watch the first one and they giggle at the special effects but for me – out of this world!

It took me quite some time to harness the force. Eventually used it in the pool to swim faster! Used the Jedi mind trick a few times too but that’s another story.

Charlie Rose

You must unlearn what you have learned.


Coach Andy Kershaw: University of Miami

Star Wars dominated my childhood play.”

Martin Zubero

Coach Martin Zubero, Episcopal Amberjax:

I was in Cocoa Beach for a swim meet that my older brother and sister were in the weekend the movie came out. In between prelims and finals, my mom and dad took me since they knew I was dying to see it. I remember how big and awesome everything was because I was so young. I remember it being overwhelming. Obviously I hadn’t gone to a lot of movies because I was only 8 years old. I saw the movie like four or five times in the theatre and ended up being Chewbacca for Halloween that year.

Like most kids that in the day, I had every Star Wars action figure imaginable. After having them in storage for decades. I pulled them out about a year ago and my boy Finn (six years old) has been playing with them as well as watching the original movies. He is just as excited to see the new movie as I was about the original movie 38 years ago.

Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.


Chewbacca Swimming

Coach Frank Holleman, St. Augustine Swimming:

My first experience with Stars Wars was I went to see the movie with parents and they walked out in the middle of it. But I not only enjoyed the original film but the parodies that were created from it such as Hardware Wars and Space Balls and this little ditty by Weird Al Yankovic:

In dark places we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.


Bruce Follensbee

Coach Bruce Follensbee, Southwest Stars:

On May 25, 1977 (Wednesday), I elected to call in sick from my teaching job at Aloma Elementary School and with 3 of my friends we went to the movie theater off of 436 and 17-92 and stood from 6 in the morning until the noon showing. We proceeded to watch Star Wars until 12 that night seeing it a total of 4 times before heading home. To top that off we went back Saturday and watched it 4 more times!

With every new Stars Wars movie I repeated the same process.

I will be repeating this same process on Friday of this week and will get to see it with the Southwest Swim Team Saturday morning.

Coach Kevin Rosepapa: Berkeley Barracudas:

“The biggest thing I remember about that movie was how big it really was!”

Swimming Star Wars

Stortrooper swimming

Coach Dave Gibson, Swim Fort Lauderdale:

May 1977…Oh I remember it, I was a Junior in college and about 6 of us went to see the original Star Wars. The place (an old beautiful theater) was packed. Everyone was in awe and thought the special effects were amazing.

Of course we all liked Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo (Harrison Ford was great). For some reason I was especially intrigued by Yoda and his teaching, psychology and guidance.

Dave Gibson

Do or do not. There is no try.


Jon Sakovich

Coach Jon Sakovich, Bolles School Sharks:

My first memory of Star Wars is The Empire Strikes Back. I saw it when I was visiting my cousins over the summer in California since I was growing up in Saipan, a land far, far, far, away, or just plain out in the middle of nowhere.

Saipan was about 6-8 months behind on movies and even then we still did not get everything, so I totally missed out on Star Wars. In fact I did not even see Star Wars until well after I saw Return of the Jedi. I did read the Star Wars graphic novel, so I had some idea of what was happening. I always thought it would be awesome to be an X Wing fighter!

Coach Neal Studd, Florida Gulf Coast University:

In 1977 I was only 1!  But even 8-10 years later everything we played with was still Star Wars, action figures, Lego.  The movie was so cool the spaceships and the new worlds it was the ultimate in imagination for a young boy.  

Kind of had a crush on Princess Leia and then ended up marring Princess Leah…coincidence?  

Neal Studd

Always pass on what you have learned.


Coach Eric Nelson: Rollins College

I was seven years old and my brother and I walked to the movie theater.
(Video interview by swimmer Morgan Cole)

Special thanks to the many coaches who responded to our Star Wars questions! May the force be with you all!