By Eleanor Pollitt
As Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”
This can be observed throughout the communities of St. Johns and Mandarin, but more specifically within the swimming community. John Hulvey is an example of a local coach who has significantly touched the lives of athletes on a wide scale.
Swimming has always been a major part of Coach John’s life. He began his career swimming distance events for Gainesville High School in the early 2000s. Hulvey graduated from the University of Florida in 2006 and went on to pursue a teaching career in Miami at Coral Gables High, where he also coached the high school team. He was able to directly apply what he learned as a teacher to his coaching position.
“Information has to be presented to athletes in much the same way that it does to students,” Hulvey said.
This commonality helped him realize that his calling was to take up coaching full time and he accepted a position as head age group swim coach for Loggerhead Aquatics, relocating to the St. Johns area in 2010. After a highly successful run with the Loggerheads, Hulvey left in 2014 to assume the head coaching position at Spartan Aquatic Club in Orange Park. Hulvey decided to start his own team, Storm Swim Club, in the latter half of 2015.
Hulvey founded Storm on the premise that successful competitive swimmers become successful individuals in life. While still a very small team in comparison to more established swim clubs in the area, Storm has managed to make a name for itself in its first year, with many strong individual swimmers and several competitive relay teams vying for podium spots at every meet.
Storm currently shares lane space with a team based out of Mandarin High School, but Hulvey is hopeful of finding pool space that Storm swimmers can call home in the near future. While striving for team growth, Hulvey wants to maintain a low swimmer-to-coach ratio to sustain what he views as the defining characteristic of high caliber swim training.
When asked about coaching philosophy, Hulvey said that his outlook could be traced to what he felt he had, and didn’t have, as a swimmer himself. “There were a lot of things I loved about swimming as a kid, but there were also a lot that I didn’t,” said Hulvey. “I try to keep things in perspective. Throughout my career, expectations have changed. As I’ve grown, kids accept that the process only works if they buy in and that there are no shortcuts.”
Several swimmers have followed Hulvey from team to team as he has migrated within the Jacksonville area. Dedicated swimmers Summer Stanfield and Michael Morton have stuck with him the longest: from Loggerhead to Spartan Aquatic Club to Storm.
“Coach John is very personable and makes each swimmer feel like an individual. He pays close attention to what each can improve on, while putting a lot of time and effort into making the sport enjoyable,” said Stanfield.
Morton followed Hulvey because he had goals that he knew Hulvey could help him attain. “I like his coaching style because he always pushes the team to its limits and his energetic personality keeps practice fun,” he said.
Eleanor Pollitt is a rising senior and swimmer at Creekside High School who has been recognized with numerous academic and athletic accolades. She is a member of the Storm Swim Club and she has been involved with club swimming since 2008.
Photo courtesy Eleanor Pollitt
Storm Swim Club at the Midnight Madness meet, May 2016