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Forging the bond between coach and athlete over Skype

As athletes climb to higher levels of competition, their relationship with their coach becomes more essential – and way more complex.

Few manage that intricate bond better than top NCAA and Olympic swimming coach Kim Brackin. Founder of Brackin Elite Swim Training, she uses Skype to deliver her relationship-based coaching to not just elite competitors, but ambitious swimmers from around the world.

Kim explains, “There’s no standard approach to the relationship between coach and athlete. It requires a lot of face-time to feel out the particulars and build the necessary level of trust. And Skype makes that possible even when the athlete and I live in different cities.”

With decades of coaching experience and a background in sports psychology, Kim has overseen top-tier swimming programs at Auburn University and University of Texas at Austin. Her dedication is legendary. She cut short her own honeymoon in order to recruit the young Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry for Auburn – and then coached Coventry to three Olympic Games and a total of seven individual medals.

Via Skype from Zimbabwe, Coventry says, “I’ve swum under different coaches and seen different coach/athlete relationships but seldom witnessed the level of importance Kim puts on the interaction she has with athletes. She excels at developing these relationships to ensure, as a team, they will succeed.”

Brackin Elite Swim Training is a new spin on one-on-one coaching. Swimmers come to Kim’s hometown of Austin for three days of personalized workouts, rigorous evaluation and relationship building. Once the swimmer returns home, Kim continues the training regimen around regular Skype meetings “in order to keep building that deeper level of trust and understanding where their head is at.”

Kim is more than familiar with the personal importance of Skype. It was the main point of communication for her own marriage while she trained with Coventry in Tunisia and Japan and her husband was serving in Iraq.

“I recognize that just a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to run an international training program like this,” Kim says. Not only do more people now have the chance to learn from a world-class coach, but they can legitimately bond with that coach in the way that’s necessary to reach the next level as a swimmer.

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