Club Wolverine NCSA Champs: Schmidt Has Made Quite A Transition From Swimmer To Coach

Gunnar Schmidt easily glided from outstanding swimmer at the University of Michigan to one of the top young swimming coaches in the area. The transition from in the pool to on the deck started strong, looked fluid and comfortable and has only picked up steam over the years.

His dedication and hard work was rewarded last week when the Club Wolverine coach was named NCSA Coach of the Year after CW took first place overall at the National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) championships in Indianapolis.


“I believe our club has been successful for a few reasons,” said Schmidt who began with Club Wolverine in 2014. “We have a large team that is dedicated to swimming and our club. Our families, swimmers and coaches come back season after season because they value Club Wolverine. And our coaching staff feels like we always need to be getting better, so we spend a lot of time learning and evolving as staff.”

Schmidt, 31, started out as the lead coach for Senior Blue, Intermediate White, and Brighton Head Site Coach. He was appointed as Club Wolverine’s head coach in 2016.

During his time at Club Wolverine, Schmidt has coached Michigan State Champions, Central Zones Champions, and USA Swimming Sectional Champions. He also has qualified swimmers for USA Swimming’s Junior Nationals, USA Swimming U.S. Open, Olympic Trials, and Jr. Pan Pacs.

During his time with the Club Wolverine age group team, Schmidt was also an assistant coach for Club Wolverine’s Elite team. During this time Club Wolverine Elite qualified multiple athletes for several international competitions including Pan Pacs, World Championships, and the Olympic Games.

“As coaches, we don’t try to get caught up in rankings or time standards,” he said. “Instead, we try to develop each swimmer, help them reach their highest standard, and focus them towards team goals. Our swimmers work hard and as a group.

“They constantly push and motivate each other in workout. Our coaches, swimmers, and parents take a lot of pride in being a part of Club Wolverine and love the sport of swimming.”

Schmidt has loved the sport of swimming ever since he jumped in the pool growing up in Phoenix. His love and talent for the sport brought him to Ann Arbor to swim for the University of Michigan.


“During my term as a student athlete I was lucky enough to swim and learn from Jon Urbanchek, Bob Bowman, Josh White, and Mike Bottom (all Olympic Team Coaches),” he said. “After leaving college I started coaching in the west suburbs of Chicago for a small YMCA team. My time in Chicago allowed me to learn and develop my own style as a coach. After a few years we had developed a handful of nationally ranked age group swimmers.”

Schmidt, whose wife Payton Schmidt is fellow at the U-M hospital, moved back to Ann Arbor and started coaching for Club Wolverine as an assistant and was the volunteer assistant coach for the University of Michigan.

“I was offered the position of Club Wolverine Head Coach in 2016 and have felt at home since,” he said.

“I have an incredible passion for the sport and teaching the process of success. My goal as a coach is to teach and encourage young athletes to achieve their own highest level of personal development. Through this process athletes learn life skills that can be applied to their life outside the sport of swimming.”

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