Hamilton Insider: Swim and Dive Coach Eric Talsma

By: Amanda Couturier

Coach Talsma has been coaching Hamilton Swim and Dive for 15 years. Out of those 15 years, 12 of those have been at the varsity level. Coaching for that long means that he has to be experienced, add all of his years swimming since childhood and you have a very capable coach. One thing he says is that “he didn’t choose swimming but swimming chose him.”

Some ways he has helped his team is by having them create goal cards that they can laminate and hang by the pool. It’s a creative way to pushing his swimmers and making them better. Besides the individual goals on the goal cards the swimmers also share one common goal. Their goal is to leave a legacy every time their season is done, this applies particularly to the seniors.

What it means to leave a legacy is to be good enough to be remembered. This not only appeals to skills but personality as well. There could be somebody that was the best swimmer but all that will be remembered is how they acted towards other people. And so, with that in mind the Hamilton swimmers strive toward that goal and try to not only use it when swimming but to use it in the future as well.

Coach Talsma believes there to be a difference between Hamilton High School’s Swim and Dive team and other competitive teams. He says that “they might do a little more fast work than yards.” What this means is that other schools work more on yards and how far a swimmer can go before getting tired; whereas, Hamilton works on how fast a swimmer can go in the length of the pool. Another difference that Talsma noticed is that their team might be a little closer than other schools. This is because Hamilton’s team is small and so they can become closer than in other schools that have very large teams. This bond helps them in the long run and influences their collaboration.

At the beginning of the season Coach Talsma had low expectations because his swimmers were pretty young and inexperienced. He knew the underclassman’s inexperience was going to affecting their record. The divers, on the other hand, were more experienced and knew what they were doing, and so Coach Talsma wouldn’t have to worry about them too much. His focus could be directed more towards the freshman and sophomores that were having a hard time.

At most Coach Talsma had 2 senior swimmers, one senior diver, and one junior swimmer, other than that the rest were sophomores and freshman. Although underclassmen could be a drag, the sophomores and freshman at Hamilton had good body types and a lot of potential. Their senior diver was top ten in the state and could’ve potentially have been the top 5 or 4 in conference. Some days they did really well together and other days not so much; nonetheless, they were still looking forward to conference and state, their focus for the season.


Some challenges Talsma faced, like mentioned before, was that they had small numbers even so, he was always telling them that they all had roles to play. Because they had small numbers there was also a “who cares” attitude, especially since they were not as competitive. Along with the low competitivity the stands were almost empty. It’s hard for the swimmers to not have that many spectators cheering them on, especially when there was a lot of hard work that was put into it. 12-14 week seasons are long and hard but they had always been looking to get better and to try to motivate each other.

The Boys Swim and Dive team record was 1-10. This was not been the best season for the Hamilton swim team but all considering it was the most they could do. The record didn’t matter much anyway, not as long as they were improving and getting better. The boys could have been trying their hardest, it just lied in the experience. The other teams had a lot of experienced swimmers and so for this underclassman-heavy team it would be hard to beat them. Although their season is done they will be ready to conquer next year.