Grishaw promoted to head coach of men's swimming team
July 17, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
|Heath Grishaw coaches from the pool deck at a practice last season. (Photo by Jessie Rogers)|
Heath Grishaw, who earned Assistant Coach of the Year honors at the Club Sports Choice Awards in May, will succeed Parker Spencer as head coach of Liberty University's second-year men's swimming & diving team. Spencer, who also headed up Liberty's men's and women's cycling and triathlon teams, starts next month as director of USA Triathlon's, Project Podium, an Olympic development program in Tempe, Ariz.
"I'm very blessed, humbled, and excited to be offered this position after just a year with Club Sports," said Grishaw, who graduated with an interdisciplinary degree that combined Sport Management and Health Sciences. "I have an advantage coming in of carrying the momentum and team culture we built last year, when we started the program from nothing."
Spencer and Grishaw, both Liberty and Liberty Christian Academy alumni, guided the Flames to a 13th-place showing at the U.S. Masters Swimming Collegiate National Championships in Atlanta in early April.
"We were definitely stretched, but it seemed like the guys really got behind the mission that we set for the team of putting Liberty's men's swimming and diving team on the map at the club level so quickly," Grishaw said.
Grishaw already has head coaching experience with the Lynchburg YMCA team for the past two seasons and the Wildwood Stingrays summer league team since his junior year in high school. Spencer hand-picked him to help start Liberty's program last summer because his strengths complemented his own.
"He learned as a head coach you want to hire an assistant who knows what you don't," Grishaw said. "He brought me on because I knew the competitive swim side better than he did, and the technical side of swimming the different strokes."
Grishaw is eager to train the Flames' 12 returning and 13 incoming swimmers for the 2018-19 season, and to work with NCAA Division I women's assistant coach Tori Wood and her husband, Lucas, who will help coach Liberty's four returning and three incoming divers.
Grishaw plans to implement more specific training routines for each swimmer and to introduce specialized practice sessions utilizing the Natatorium's state-of-the-art facilities and resistance training equipment.
|Heath Grishaw accepts Assistant Coach of the Year honors at the Club Sports Choice Awards on May 9. (Photo by Joel Isimeme)|
"I love to be high energy on the pool deck," said Grishaw, who also blasts music in practices using underwater speakers. "I like to make sure my swimmers are comfortable and having fun and that the team spirit stays high during practices. One of my favorite things is doing sprinting and resistance work with my guys."
Returning team members include rising junior Noah Miller (100- and 200-yard butterfly), rising senior Charles Fernandez, who is training to represent Guatemala at the Summer Olympics for the second time in modern pentathlon at Tokyo in 2020, his younger brother Danny Fernandez, an equally talented swimmer and diver, and fellow rising sophomore David Schafer, who Grishaw coached through the YMCA.
Top incoming recruits include Caleb Rice, a freestyler who helped lead Jefferson Forest High School's swim team to a state championship this past winter, and Dan Flittner, a Yorktown, Va., resident and transfer from NCAA Division II University of Findlay (Ohio), who has made excellent strides this summer rehabilitating from an injury.
"We have a good set of returners who can bring the new swimmers in, showing them the ropes and culture, and we want to continue moving forward," Grishaw said. "With the talent we have coming in and the talent returning, I'm looking to qualify the entire team for nationals. I would love to have a national champion in an event this year and to finish in the top 10 of the men's team standings."