FAYETTEVILLE – Sean Schimmel’s path to collegiate coaching started in 8th grade. He didn’t know it then, but the memories and experiences he had participating on the Paramus Redwave club team in New Jersey would lead him to the University of Arkansas as the seventh head coach in the 40-year history of the program.
“I was with that group for five years and those bonds that you create over that time and that trust within each other that was where I was able to find that,” Schimmel said. “I’m sure there are a lot of places out there for people to find that, but that’s where I was able to find that.”
Schimmel attributes a lot of the bonds created and camaraderie on the team to his coach at the time, Frank McElroy.
“That environment wouldn’t have been possible without Frank,” Schimmel said. “Having that environment opened the doors to become competitive in college and swimming.”
McElroy constantly pushed Schimmel to be better and to stick with swimming. And stick with it he did. After high school he became a Trojan, competing for the University of Southern California. He went on to compete in the 1988 Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200-meter butterfly.
“If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have swum in college and had these opportunities open up to coach,” Schimmel said. “Getting into coaching after college I just knew that that was the path that I wanted to take.”
Schimmel models a lot of his coaching styles around what he learned from his first swim coach and what he learned from being a part of the Paramus Redwave.
“It wasn’t only about swimming, but how to mature and develop during that time and he played a huge role in that,” Schimmel said. “I certainly bring that type of aspect into my coaching philosophy. It’s not all about what we are doing in the pool as an athlete, but about what we are doing in all aspects of our life.”
Schimmel is working on getting to know the 35 swimmers on the Arkansas swimming and diving team in hopes of pushing them to new heights this season.
“I think my coaching style is just trying to help each individual athlete to be better than they have ever been before and whatever it takes for that individual,” Schimmel said. Schimmel has now been coaching for 13 years and he hasn’t looked back or regretted a single second.
“I look around at other professions and I feel like I’m blessed because of the type of work that I get to do and the type of people that I get to work with,” Schimmel said. “It’s a no-brainer for me to be inspired to get up every morning and to come in and be with them.”
Schimmel looks to return the Razorbacks to the top 25. He and the current coaching staff feel this goal is feasible if they can lift the swimming and diving team up to their fullest potential.
“My initial impression with the team is that I am really excited about the strong core that we have,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do, we have a lot of work to do and that’s what it takes to be great, but I’m starting to get to know those women a little bit and what they’re all about and I’m really excited about it and excited about what we’re going to do.”
As this year’s season is set to get underway for the Razorbacks on October 6th, Schimmel is ready to make some new memories at the University of Arkansas.
“I’ve certainly had some special memories in the past, but it’s always about that next one that we’re trying to create,” he said. “To be a part of something bigger than yourself is what our team is about. It’s not just about them as individuals or about me, but it’s about being a part of a bigger force and that’s special and that’s unique.”