Q&A with AHS Swim Team Coach Brent Mitchell


Lillian Arnold, Staff writer

At Allen High School, football gets a lot of attention, for obvious reasons: fantastic players and a big shiny stadium being the most apparent. However,  Allen isn’t just about football, there are plenty of teams that deserve the same recognition. 

The Allen Swim & Dive team doesn’t often get much attention, but with its swimmers working hard in and out of the pool to prepare for meets and the eventual road to state competition, it deserves much more. The Allen Swim & Dive coach, Brent Mitchell, shared his thoughts about the 2019-2020 season.


What are your goals for this season?

“Every year we go into the same thing. We always want to win districts and send as many people on to regionals, and send as many people to state. Only way that you’re going to get an opportunity to be successful in this sport always starts at a district level. If you can win districts and get as many people on to regionals, it gives you an opportunity to have success in regionals as well as success at state.”


What is the most important thing you want people on this team to know?

“I think the biggest thing that comes out of swimming in general is learning about yourself and learning what winning and losing is. I think too many people view winning and losing as a clock; a time I don’t view it that way. I view it more as for you to be successful, you’ve got to be willing to push yourself to the highest level. You have to be a hard worker, you have to be willing to give and understand that failure is going to happen, and that you have to learn from your failures. It’s easy to, when you succeed and things are going well, to stay motivated, keep pushing yourself. The hard times are the ones that make an athlete. The hard times are the ones when things aren’t going your way, practices aren’t that strong, that you have to keep pushing yourself and motivating yourself to come to practice, those are the times that I want people to learn what they can do to motivate themselves. I think swimming is a lot like life. When things are down, how do you handle the disappointment? Everybody’s great with handling success.”


What is your favorite part of coaching this team?

“The kids. Every year you get a different group of kids. Every year you get a kids walking through doing different things. You get to watch them grow up, and you watch them grow from freshmen all the way up to seniors. Learning likes, dislikes, what they want to be, what they want to become, what their goals change into. There have been a lot of kids through this program in the last twenty years, and I feel very honored to have been a part of their lives for one, two, three, even four years.”


What are some challenges you face on a daily basis?

“Motivation. Not for me, but for the kids. I think when you combine the 6:30 a.m. practice, the school work, a lot of it becomes difficult. How do I manage? A lot of these kids are looking for social lives as well, and how to juggle all of that and still be successful. One of the things I’ve always told them at the beginning of the year is that it feels like six months. From the beginning of school to the end of February, we’re in season. In the blink of an eye, season’s already coming to an end. A lot of people wait and wait and think, ‘hey I can do this’ then, ‘hey I can do that’ there, and then all of a sudden it’s over. I think that’s the freak-out mode for a lot of people.”


What is something you have learned through coaching?

“It never happens the way you think it’s going to happen. It’s always a surprise, there’s always a disappointment. You can do the best job you can, coach at the best level, that doesn’t mean success is going to happen. I always laugh that my job is based on trying to motivate high school kids to want to do the best they can every single time, and knowing that they’ve got all these other variables that are going on in their lives. For success, those kids have to all buy in, not just in the pool, but outside the pool as well.”


Do you think that this year is going to be a successful year?

“Yeah. It’s gonna be how we develop. On the boy’s side we’ve got very good schools, Plano West and East are very solid. Plano Senior is a strong team, Prosper was a good team last year, we’ll see if they come back this year. McKinney Boyd and McKinney are on the rise, so I think the boy’s side is a lot harder than the girl’s side is, but it’s all gonna come down to depth, or how many people we have on both sides. I think the girls have a great shot to win districts, but the goal is always to move on. The guys, I think if we can develop, have a good shot to win districts. But again, gotta see how we develop through the year.”


What would you say to someone thinking about joining the swim team in upcoming years?

You need to get in shape. A lot of people join thinking it’s a ‘everybody’s gonna make the team’, and that’s not the case. You’ve got to have an aerobic background, you’ve got to be able to train, and it’s not something you can show up to and try out for. Swimming is a lot different. You run every day. Or you can go outside and run. With swimming, you’ve got to put the time into the pool each and every day, and I think that makes it difficult. But if you get involved, it’s a great group of people. It’s a great group of kids. And I think the culture of the team, the culture of the kids is very strong, and once you get involved with it, it’s something you can do your entire life.”