Swim coach looks to rebuild program

Anthony Michalovitz

UW Oshkosh hired Christopher Culp to replace Jon Wilson, the team’s coach for eight seasons, as swim and dive head coach in late July. Culp, who has 17 years of professional coaching experience, is certified under the American Swim Coaches Association. “I have been a professional swim coach since 1997,” Culp said. “I started my coaching career as the assistant coach at my alma mater, San Francisco State University. I worked as an assistant under coach Bruce Brown for three years before taking on the head coach role in 2000.” Culp began swimming at six years old and said he has been trained under high profile coaches. “I competed at the Sectional level, State level, National level and NCAA level,” Culp said. “I swam under two different Olympic coaches in my career, Sherm Chavoor and Mike Hastings.” Culp was promoted after Bruce Brown retired in 1999, and proceeded to coach San Francisco State until 2004 when the swim program was eliminated due to budget cuts. Culp said he gives credit to his college coach and mentor Bruce Brown for inspiring him to coach swim. “He ignited a fire in me to perform at my highest level by teaching me how to compete for the joy of racing,” Culp said. “Swimming had a very positive effect on my life and taught me a lot of life’s important lessons. I wanted to give back to the sport that gave so much to me and have that same positive effect on others.” After the program cut, Culp started fresh by coaching at the Burlingame Aquatic Club, a swimming team that started with around 150 swimmers and three coaches. By 2014, that number had grown to around 300 swimmers and six coaches. “The team consisted of novice swimmers learning the sport to elite swimmers competing at the national level,” Culp said. “I primarily coached the senior group (high school age elite group) and assisted them in their college recruitment.” After coaching for 10 years at the Burlingame Aquatic Club, Culp said he wanted to return to college level coaching and accepted a position as an assistant coach at Concordia University Irvine. “This opportunity solidified my desire to return to college coaching.” Although Culp was only at Concordia for a year, he said he wanted to finish his Master of Arts degree in coaching and athletics administration, and get his feet wet at the college level. Freshman swimmer Ian Sewell said Culp has a lot to bring to the program. “He brings a lot of respect with him,” Sewell said. “Not because of his accomplishments and background, but because of his vision for our team.” Senior Myoshia Jackson said everything Culp does has positive effects. “Everything he does or says is very strong and empowering,” Jackson said. “He focuses on more than just being an athlete, he wants to bring confidence to the forefront of our team.” Sewell said that Culp wants the best out of his team. “He reminds us that the only way we will get better is to push ourselves,” Sewell said. “Something I’ve noticed is if we don’t have a hard time getting out of the water after practice, then we haven’t worked hard enough.” Culp said he is anticipating his team’s improvement. “As a new coach, I have brought some new ideas, different training philosophy, a complex dryland training component, weight lifting,and a structured season training plan,” Culp said. “Improvement is what drives me. I want to see each and every team member succeed in reaching their goals and achieving their best marks this season.” Culp said he has high hopes for his program’s competitiveness and achievements, both in and outside of the pool. “What I hope to bring is a structured program that will increase in numbers and an energy level that will help produce a competitive program that the University can be proud of,” Culp said. “I want to create a program that is active in their university and contributes in giving back to their community. One of my top goals is to construct a men’s and women’s swimming and diving program that generates champions in their sport, in the classroom and in life.”