Kristin Adair is a lead age group coach and senior assistant for Rio Salado Swim Club in Arizona. She served as a Team Leader for our 2018 Summit and recently answered a few questions about how LEAD relates to her experience as a coach. The 2019 LEAD Summit in Atlanta, Georgia will feature a brand-new coaches track, featuring a full day of keynotes, seminars, collaborative activities, and team building exercises.
What was your experience like as a Team Leader?
KA: As a Team Leader, I was lucky enough to have an all-encompassing experience at LEAD because I was able to see how engaged the girls were as well as see the passion, work, and dedication of the women running the summit. I loved being a part of an event that had such an immediate impact on all the participants, including the adults!
What was the most impactful piece of knowledge you took away from LEAD?
KA: For me, remembering that the best way for ME to lead is to be the best version of MYSELF. I respect and admire many people who have been leaders to me, but I realized at LEAD that I have to discover my leadership choices, actions, and style. Commitment to this principle has changed how I’ve coached my swimmers and strengthened our relationships, which always leads to faster swimming.
How might coaches implement lessons from LEAD in their daily practices?
KA: As a coach, it is essential that you can lead your group and team. Participating in LEAD will help coaches feel more grounded in their own leadership and confidence. The better the coach can lead the individuals in their group, the better the group’s culture, swimmers, and performance will be. At LEAD, the focus is on leading and connecting with individuals, which performance follows. The better the individual, the better the group, the better the swimmer, the better the performance. Understanding how to better engage with your female athletes can only better the women, culture, and performance of your team.
As a woman in swimming, how can LEAD and other opportunities for girls and women shape the future of our sport?
KA: Countless times at LEAD I wondered about what the long-term effects of the summit will be. If I had had this opportunity as a teenager, would I be different? If I had seen strong women lead gracefully and passionately when I was younger, how would that have changed my perspective on the world? I believe wholeheartedly that the most impactful aspect of this summit is young girls seeing that women embracing who they are CAN be powerful, CAN be decision makers, and CAN be wildly successful, without changing who they are at their core.
What has been the most powerful advice you have received during your career in coaching?
KA: A colleague I respect greatly told me once, “I like you a lot but you’ve got to LEAD this group. You’ve got to make a choice about what you want this group to be and then guide them there.” I think what resonated so much with me was how simple his advice was. Make a choice and do it. From that day forward I tried to align all the small, day-to-day interactions I had with my swimmers to my vision for the group. My leadership wasn’t about being the authority figure on deck, but about first embodying the attitudes and behaviors I wanted from my swimmers and then helping my athletes walk the path. Being a guide to the process has made all the difference in my relationships with my swimmers and in their success in workout and at meets.
What do you want to say to the next generation of young women dreamers?
KA: Just because you don’t see people who look or think like you doing what you want to do, does not mean you can’t do it. You are absolutely capable. You can learn about yourself, better yourself, and be successful. Figure out how you think, how you feel, and what makes you be your best self, then go out and make an impact wherever you are.
KA: 200 IM
Role model at age 10?
KA: I don’t know, the Little Mermaid? She was good at underwaters!
Role model now?
KA: I can’t possibly list all the people I admire, respect, and love. I try to remember when people have helped me without expecting anything in return and serve others with the same intent.
Favorite way to relax?
KA: I don’t drink coffee! 😂