January 30, 2019
Behind the Blocks – Heath Clifford
Being a volunteer has given Heath Clifford an opportunity to give back to a sport that has given him and his children many positive life experiences and lessons.
Heath, a naval officer, aerospace and operational physiologist and water survival specialist, received orders for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point last year.
After learning he would be moving to eastern North Carolina, he contacted Carteret Coach Christy Whaley, who had coached the Cliffords’ previous swim team in Memphis, Tennessee.
Heath and his wife, Krista, have two children Sarah, 17, and Ethan, 13, who swim competitively.
After talking with Coach Whaley and several other ECA coaches, he and his family decided ECA was the right fit for what they were looking for in a competitive team program.
Heath has national and LSC officials’ certifications that allow him to contribute in several ways for ECA: meet referee, deck referee, starter, stroke and turn, administrative referee and chief judge.
Many on the team have probably seen Heath at the starter’s post, where he helps to ensure a fair start for all swimmers. “The starter must know when the field is ready to assume the starting position and when the field is ready to receive the starting signal. But most importantly, know when it is necessary to intervene so that these two goals may be realized,” he said.
Heath has an extensive background in exercise physiology and sports medicine. Before his military service, he worked as a certified athletic trainer and rehabilitation specialist, including the swimming and diving programs at the University of Arkansas and the University of Louisville. He also served as a USA swimming age group coach in Yuma, Arizona.
Since joining ECA, Heath said he has met many wonderful and dedicated parents, coaches and officials, making the family’s transition to the area a joy.
“It takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, it takes a village to run a successful swim meet and swim program,” he said. “Every role is critical, from board member to timer. I would encourage all parents, when able, to do what they can to assist ECA.”