BYU swim coach John Brooks: A coach who cares

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The smell of chlorine draws the attention of anyone within close proximity. The moisture in the air is more than apparent. The sounds of water slapping the side of the tiled walls and the patter of bare feet against the slick floor can’t be ignored.

It’s all what BYU swim coach John Brooks lives for.

Brooks guides student swimmers and divers in practice, in weightlifting and swim techniques and manages to do it twice a day. Considering the amount of time invested in the team, it’s a task that could only be taken upon by someone who truly cares for BYU’s swim and dive team.

Which is exactly what swimmers and divers say about Brooks.

Coach Brooks watches his team in the BYU alumni meet.
Coach John Brooks watches his team in the BYU alumni meet. (Universe Photo)

“He’s never harsh. He really cares,” said BYU swimmer Whitney Allen. “He makes the time to make sure (we are) okay before swimming. Most coaches don’t do that.”

Brooks is a caring coach. He leaves his personal interests at the door and focuses on the well-being and unity of his team.

“You can tell he cares a lot and that he’s really invested in the team,” said BYU diver Kevin Dreesen.

The entire BYU swim and dive team went on a camp-out at the beginning of September. A mellow environment, sweet memories and laughter brought this team together. Brooks was the leader who helped initiate it.

“You could tell he just wanted us to be united as a team,” said BYU diver Jordan Tuckfield. “He wants the team to be together, to be able to preform to the best of our ability. I like that focus that he has.”

Brooks’ obvious investment in the team and clear focus on its success could explain the great amount of respect BYU swimmers and divers have for him.

“My biggest strength as a coach is just caring about the athletes,” Brooks said.

But Brooks has a story as to how he got here. His life experiences have given him something that makes him care just a little bit more: personal understanding.

Brooks’ mother and sister died in a car accident shortly after he returned from his mission. Brooks also swam for BYU after returning from his mission. As if the adjusting life of a returned missionary couldn’t be hard enough, Brooks balanced the life of a student, returned missionary, swimmer and his own personal struggles at the same time.

“That probably changed me the most out of anything that has ever happened to me,” Brooks said. “I’m more receptive to help and understand.”

With a story like that, no wonder Brooks has a knack for caring.

Brooks balanced a lot coming back from his mission. He now balances his family life and his career. Imagine the life of this coach today.

Brooks is used to a fast-paced life, growing up in a family of nine kids with a dad who swam for BYU and later coached the team. This fast-lane situation hasn’t ended and won’t be ending anytime soon with his wife Katie and three active, energetic children of ages of 4, 2, and 1.

Leadership positions at any university level can be an intimidating task. Brooks noted that being higher up the ladder meant more eyes looking up to him, meaning pressure, pressure and more pressure.

In spite of the intimidating tasks of balancing his personal life, with personal passion and professional work, it all seems to be part of his normal life.

“It’s the same thing I’ve done my entire life,” Brooks said. “Just work.”

In essence, it’s just part of the norm. Yet Brooks also has a wife, Katie, who loves and helps and he explained that she is a “great support” for him in his endeavors.

The trust Brooks has built up with all the people around him is apparent. He has managed to attain a level of respect that makes this team advance.

According to BYU swimmer Jake Taylor, Brooks helps the team and is a huge support and motivation.

“He strives to understand us on a personal level, which motivates us as swimmers,” Taylor said. “Knowing that we have a coach that we can rely on and trust.”

Success for the BYU swim and dive team includes goals to reach the top 10 in the nation and to become the most unified team possible.

Success is more than times and rankings to Brooks. Success is unity and understanding. It is caring on a common ground. It is hard work and correct principles.

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