This is Coach Allen, my swim coach for four years at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and one of the most driven people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Coach Allen has now been coaching the men's and women's swimming programs at UNCW for over 30 years. In recent years his men's and women's teams have won 9 Conference Championships, and the men now have a dynasty of 6 conference titles in a row. Coach is portrayed with his championship rings like he's holding candy just out of the reach of jealous coaches. This work is the first in a series to be placed in a final print entitled "UNCW Swimming & Diving Retrospective."
On a personal level, I owe a great deal to Coach, both as a swimmer and as a human being. I wasn't the greatest of swimmers, but when I was introduced to Coach Allen (a mere coincidence during my Senior year of high school) he treated me like a top recruit, brought me into his office and spoke with me at length about the program. That same day we set up a recruiting trip and he pulled my application to UNCW and expedited it through the Athletic program's office. When I became a UNCW swimmer, I learned what real training was. In fact, while I was drawing this piece, I had to fight off terrible flashbacks of thousands upon thousands of yards of swimming, up to 18,000 yards a day during Christmas training! Aaah! But truly, Coach always was able to inspire you, just at the moment of total exhaustion, to give even more in the water and in life.
I am deeply thankful to Coach Allen for the discipline that he communicated to us, and am even more thankful for the way that he and his family supported my own during my bout with Cancer in 2000. As I told Coach's son Matt when he asked me how hard Chemotherapy was: "It's got nothin' on Christmas training with Coach Allen!" Thanks for everything Coach!