Pacific Swimming
Level 4
Excellence 300

Putting Character First


National Team

Orinda Aquatics has developed over 250 national-level swimmers and 27 Olympic Trial qualifiers throughout its history. Additionally, eighty percent of Orinda Aquatics swimmers go on to compete collegiately. This consistent and impressive production is the result of methodical process and philosophy which is outlined in the text below. Also, see the PDF "National History" below. Swimmers achieving the Winter Junior National standard will qualify for that meet (one west coach/one east coast), receive a National Team jacket and cap, and also be eligible for the USA Swimming Scholastic All American recognition (winter Junior cut and a 3.5 GPA for that academic year). Below, please find the Orinda Aquatics training philosophy, National history, recent National Development teams, time standards, and an overview of the team's and staff's deliberate approach to developing national-level swimmers.

Current National Team Members

  1. Tommy Roder
  2. Sydney Griscavage
  3. Adriana Smith
  4. Jenna Ravarino
  5. Jasmine Fok
  6. Emilia Barck
  7. Connor Ormsby
  8. Mac Follmer
  9. Nate Levy
  10. Lily Struempf
  11. Nicky Glenn
  12. Andrew Hallett
  13. Ashlyn Widmer


National Training Philosophy (PDF)

National History

National/Development Team - 2019

Senior Time Standards

Training Overview

Training high-level athletes has been a debated topic in swimming with approaches varying widely from volume and distance and training, to IM-based training, to race-paced/speed-oriented training. Orinda Aquatics utilizes an approach that focuses on maximizing efficiency, allowing swimmers to develop technically while not breaking down under stress, and training/teaching swimmers how to race effectively. In addition, Orinda Aquatics places a premium on the overall career and physical and emotional development of every swimmer. This broad view represents the foundation of our coaching philosophy and is reflected in our training methodology and the relationships we develop with our swimmers. 

Technique Overview

To be competitive at the national level, swimmers must be technically proficient and understand all nuances of their strokes. There should exist a culture of technique in which swimmers develop a dedication and a sense of pride in stroke development. Swimmers should become well-educated and accountable for technical improvement. Technical focus is intertwined into all areas of training. Athletes are prescribed detailed analyses for every aspect of their strokes and are coached to focus on technique daily.

Personal Development

As part of the mission of Orinda Aquatics, the overriding goal of the program is to develop high-character athletes and high-character individuals, and this begins at the national level.  We require that these swimmers operate at the highest level of training, team commitment, leadership, academics, and character. It is also imperative that they remain humble and grounded in appreciation for their success, and become mentors to younger team members. 

National Group Program  Overview

  • General Swimmer Expectations
    • to be fully committed to all aspects of the program
    • to act with the utmost integrity at all times, both in the pool and out
    • to have a coach-swimmer relationships based on implicit trust and mutual respect
    • to place the team first at all times
  • Training
    • Training cycles typically run through winter (SC) Junior Nationals, spring high school championships, and summer (LC) Junior Nationals. 
    • Training sessions are seven to nine times per week with yardage ranging from 6,000 (weekdays) to 9,000 (Saturday)
    • Workout and set design are mixed energy systems with an overriding emphasis on stroke count and stroke rate training through threshold and pace swimming
    • Training focus includes aggressive IM, kicking, and under water focus
    • Race strategy is a dominant training theme
    • Training is aggressive but efficient and healthy
    • Development is across all strokes and all distances 
    • We recognize each swimmer’s potential and specific talents and work together to develop it
    • Orinda Aquatics utilizes the most current equipment for training, including: Snorkel and paddles (required), four types of specialty paddles, breaststroke knee bands, tempo trainers, parachutes, Swim Cordz, Turn Master, resistance devices, and numerous other Speedo and Finis products
  • Technique
    • We strive to develop perfection in strokes, dives, turns, and underwater technique, so that technical efficiency creates a competitive advantage
    • Swimmers are taught drill (scull, kick, stroke) progressions in all strokes and how to “build” a stroke
    • Swimmers are given detailed reviews of their primary strokes with ratings and analysis
    • Swimmers are expected to be accountable and committed to technical development on a daily basis
    • Video analysis is regularly employed with Dr. Genadijus Sokolovas (velocity analysis), former head of USA Swimming Sports Science, and Argo Video
  • Dryland
    • An aggressive but balanced program which allows for injury-free training and builds strength and endurance (we do not encourage weight training at this point in a swimmer’s development)
    • Our Senior 4/National group has five dryland sessions per week
    • Equipment includes bands, medicine balls, jump ropes, TRX bands, and VASA trainers
    • We utilize Bridge Athletic, developed by former strength coaches for California Aquatics
    • We have guest speakers talk on subjects of physiology, nutrition, and injury prevention
  • Personal Growth
    • As mentioned, national level swimmers are required to be role models in every aspect of the team and nurtured to become team leaders and captains at all levels of the sport (high school and college)
    • We coach and expect our swimmers to maintain humility, gratitude, compassion, service, and team support
    • Regular goal setting includes commitment to being a high-character athlete and person while training with the utmost integrity and focus
    • Parents are included and educated in the process of their child’s swimming development
    • There is zero tolerance for negative or adverse behavior both inside OA and out
  • College
    • National-level swimmers are self-motivated to become competitive collegiate athletes
    • Qualifying swimmers travel to national meets sanctioned by USA Swimming where they are exposed to other elite athletes and college coaches. OA coaches will make introductions.
    • Our coaches are very familiar with most competitive college programs and coaches in the country and will support the swimmer with letters of recommendation and direct contact if needed
    • Orinda Aquatics, through the website and advisors, offers extensive college resources and support
    • Coaches will meet (regularly) with swimmers and parents to guide the swimmer towards to a relevant list of schools and ultimately to the best college fit based on the swimming, academics, and finances
    • The Orinda Aquatics program and staff are respected by colleges coaches at all levels
  • Competition
    • As mentioned above, competition focus will primarily be on Junior Nationals (short course and long course), high school championships (for college recruiting), and possibly Sectionals or Grand Prix meets
    • National swimmers will also travel with the team to Clovis for a spring senior “team” meet.  While they may not shave down, they will play a strong leadership role.
    • Components of race evaluation include; starts, strategy, pace, stroke rates, stroke counts, turn technique and speed, underwater speed/distance, and race finish.

Coaching Staff Skill, Expertise & Experience

  • Coaches have over over forty years of experience (each) with proven success at all levels of swimming
  • National Team coaches (2) are ASCA Level 5 certified (highest level)
  • Coaches are adept at creating very positive coach-swimmers relationships/partnerships
  • Orinda Aquatics has developed national-level swimmers in all strokes and distances, including sprint and mid-distance freestyle
  • Coaches are recognized nationally, and have spoken at clinics throughout the country, on team development, culture, technique, and stroke rate/tempo training. 
  • They are also acknowledged for their skill and expertise in technical development with strokes, dives, turns and underwater speed.
  • OA is respected by collegiate coaches for holistic swimmer development with leadership and character focus
  • There has been no staff turnover in twenty years

What makes our program perennially successful and unique?

  • The development is safe, gradual and balanced, and at a pace that can be maintained and improved through high school and college.
    • Over 20+ years, we have sadly witnessed the overly aggressive training “too much too soon” and the resulting plateauing of times and burnout, both physical and emotional
    • Swimmers improve systematically and consistently as training intensity increases, stroke technique is improved, and stroke flaws are eliminated
    • We work to find the balance of training aggressively to reach national-level competitiveness and still have the room to improve through high school and through a four-year college career
  • The development is healthy both physically and emotionally
    • Our goal is for our swimmers to maintain a love and passion for the sport well into college
    • The emphasis is as much on personal and athletic growth as it is on performance 
    • We have extremely close and positive relationship with our athletes and care deeply about them
    • There is never undue pressure to reach a certain level to add to the coaches’ resume or to make the team look good. The expectations are always in partnership with the coach, swimmer, and parents.  Ultimately, we will always do what is in the best interest of the athlete’s long term swimming career.
    • A recent quote from an OA college graduate. “As I finished my final college season of swimming, the end of my swimming career, I never loved swimming more.” She has been with OA since sixth grade.

Case Study – Andrea Ward: Orinda Aquatics, U.C. Santa Barbara

  • Began swimming at OA at age twelve – humble beginning (not a young star)
  • High school Freshman times: 100 Fly 1:01, 200 Fly no time, 200 Free 1:58, 500 Free 5:16
  • High school Senior times: 100 Fly 56.5, 200 Fly 2:05.5 200 Free 1:53.0, 500 Free 4:57.8
  • UCSB Freshman times: 100 Fly 53.83, 200 Fly 2:03.0, 200 Free 1:49.1, 500 Free, 4:48.6
  • UCSB Senior times: 100 Fly 51.4 (4th at NCAA’s), 200 Fly 1:55.7, 200 Free 1:47.0, 500 Free 4:46.9

Orinda Aquatics’ Results:

  • Over 25 Olympic Trial swimmers
  • One Olympic Silver Medalist
  • Over 250 National-level swimmers/high school All-Americans
  • 12 Pacific Swimming Records (individual and relays)
  • Two National High School Records
  • Orinda Aquatics male swimmers held nine of eleven California (CIF) North Coast Section records in 2013
  • Average 40-50 collegiate athletes each year
  • Over 50 OA graduates have been collegiate team captains
  • Senior Group GPA (75 swimmers) at 4.0

With an average team size of 140, Orinda Aquatics’ team successes include:

  • First place, Junior Nationals West, 2000
  • First place, Far Westerns, 2000
  • Third place, Junior Nationals Long Course 2012
  • First place, Sectionals Short Course, 2001
  • Second place, Sectionals Long Course 2013  
  • Orinda Aquatics has been the top scoring team in USA Swimming under 150 members (based on USA Swimming Virtual Club Championships)
  • Orinda Aquatics was highlighted in Swimming World Magazine as the “Club Spotlight Team”
  • Orinda Aquatics was recognized by USA Swimming and ASCA for “Best Practices” in 2009
  • Campolindo High School (OA coaches and swimmers) was ranked as the #1 public high school in the nation in 2013 (3rd overall) Swimming World Magazine

Critical questions for every high-level athlete to ask themselves:

  • Does my training support technical development?
  • Does my training support long-term development?
  • Am I highly motivated to train at a high level every day?
  • Do I have a daily commitment to stroke development?
  • Am I a role model and team leader and do I demonstrate that daily?
  • Am I more (self) identified as a “swimmer” or a person/leader?
  • Do I love and respect my training group and my coaches?
  • Is swimming teaching me critical life-lessons that I will carry beyond the sport?
  • Am I excited about the prospects of training at the collegiate level?
  • Do I have a college plan and support throughout the process?
  • Do I still love the sport?