Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters Attributes Success to Their Coach, Marty Hendrick
By Jamie Marks
A picture speaks a thousand words, according to Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters Coach, Marty Hendrick. “SFTL offers a welcoming environment where each member is a part of a team… we are a family!” he said when asked about the team’s success.
This year, Coach Marty reaches his tenth year as head masters coach at the International Swimming Hall of Fame pool in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is a USMS Level 4 Recognized Coach, the highest level within the USMS Masters Coach Certifications. And In 2011, he was awarded with the U.S. Masters Swimming Kerry O’Brien Coach Award, which signifies a coach who is building membership in their community.
“Coach Marty leads by example and keeps competitive swimming fun with his warm personality,” said Ann Thomas. She has been a swimmer of Coach Marty’s since he began coaching with Fort Lauderdale Aquatics in 2005.
Coach Marty believes in respecting each of his swimmers as individuals who have come to swim for their own personal goals and objectives. The swimming pool should be an environment that welcomes all, regardless of talent, according to him.
Anita Mitchell has swum masters for many years at the Hall of Fame pool and Coach Marty is what keeps her swimming and competing. “Marty treats us like champions, no matter what our skill level is,” she said. “It makes me want to be the best I can be because of that… I want to live up to it!”
Coach Marty embodies the spirit of family within his team; when asked of his favorite memory from the recent U.S. Masters Nationals in Geneva, Ohio – where SFTL won the local team title – he couldn’t think of just one. “I have too many favorite memories when I think of each of my swimmers individually,” he said.
SFTL Masters’ success roots from the atmosphere Coach Marty has created; it’s not just about swimming laps here… it’s about a united team, and enjoying the sport.
Roger Powell competed at his first Masters Nationals competition in Geneva as one of the youngest on the team at 22-years-old. “I have watched him train with the age group team since he was twelve,” said Coach Marty.
He recollected on Powell’s hard work ethic since he was an age-grouper and how he continued to train hard and motivated others in masters swimming. Coach Marty said upon watching Powell win the 50-meter Butterfly, “him winning gave me Goosebumps… I could not have been more excited watching him bring it home!”
Powell reflected on Coach Marty as someone who has always been an inspiration on the pool deck. “His attitude towards the sport is infectious; always motivating others to do their best,” said Powell.
SFTL Masters is a unique team, made up of swimmers from all over the world. Of the 62 swimmers who competed for the winning team at the 2015 U.S. Masters Nationals this summer, 23 swimmers were not born in the USA. The countries represented within SFTL were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Korea, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad and Venezuela. Although the team shared different cultures and first languages, they came together unanimously.
Eddie Tiozzo, a Croatian and a four-time Masters Nationals competitor for Coach Marty, described Hendrick’s coaching as one that, “possesses the perfect blend of fierce and laid-back leadership; he is competent, caring and hard working.”
Coach Marty’s animated personality shined through after reaching the goal of 60 swimmers committing to attend the 2015 Summer Masters Nationals – shining highlighter-yellow to be exact. Coach Marty and his assistant, Coach Megan Lassen, both dyed their hair yellow and blue to match the team’s colors. After a dip in the pool, it almost appeared as if Coach Marty and Coach Megan were bleeding SFTL blue and yellow.
“It was awesome to see the coaches dye their hair… to see their commitment to the ‘yellow and blue’ was great!” said Marie Hanft, another first time Masters Nationals team member and individual national champion. Her first experience “surpassed any expectations I previously had of how a team could operate on deck with one another, and it showed me how much the coaches genuinely care for their team.”
Coach Marty’s dedication to SFTL Masters is apparent through the team’s three national titles within five years. Keep an eye out for SFTL and Coach Marty Hendrick in Portland, OR at next year’s Masters Nationals.
Jamie Marks, who writes for Florida Swim Network, is a former collegiate swimmer from the University of Arkansas, Olympic Trial qualifier, NCAA Division 1 All American and currently lives in south Florida pursuing her masters degree in communications.
Florida Swim Network