Growing up in Philadelphia, PA, David Wendkos was sure he knew his destiny. He would follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the world of automobile dealerships. He spent his summers working for his father. All the while, he swam. He swam for his local pool, he swam for his high school and he swam for his college.
Although he loved swimming, it never occurred to him that the pool held the key to his future. Instead, he continued down the path toward owning his own dealership. He moved to Maryland for that very purpose.
When he realized he was not cut out for the car business, he still believed he was meant to run his own business and headed headlong into the landscaping business.
“It was easy to think landscaping was the right place for me,” Wendkos said. “Because the economy was booming. People were spending money hand over fist and I didn’t have to work hard to do well.”
But it wasn’t satisfying. Quite by accident he began helping a local triathlete improve his swimming form. He watched as his friend became faster due to the tips he was passing on and suddenly a light went on. Suddenly, Wendkos knew what he really wanted to do with his life.
He began taking coaching courses, helping more and more swimmers improve, stepping in as assistant coach in programs throughout the region, and working as a masters swim coach, all the while hoping for a full-time position with one of the local swim teams.
Finally, this spring his opportunity came. Wendkos has recently been named head coach of the Severna Park Racquetball & Fitness Club's Stingray Swim Team.
“It is a great opportunity,” Wendkos said. “We have had a lot of attrition because the last coach was here for a long time, but I think it is OK. We have the chance to bring in some new swimmers and help them develop into great swimmers.”
Though he understands that two of these teams stand out competitively, Wendkos believes that his program is a great place for kids to come, learn technique and grow into more competitive swimmers.
Wendkos described himself as a technician. He believes in the benefits of focusing on technique to become a more efficient swimmer.
“But I don’t coach with the sole goal being to help a kid become faster,” he said. “I coach to help them discover that they can do more than they think they can. If they can learn that in the pool, they can apply it to so many other areas of their life and they can take that with them throughout their lives.”
The Stingrays are looking for new swimmers for the upcoming fall season. Instead of a tryout, Wendkos is meeting swimmers on an individual basis to assess their abilities.
“We are really lucky right now,” Wendkos said. “We have a small group of great swimmers and we can add to that with younger, maybe less experienced swimmers and build an even better program.”
It took Wendkos a long time to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. But he believes he has found the answer.
“Every morning when I wake up, I look forward to going to work,” Wendkos said. “And every time I see one of my swimmers complete an Ironman, swim a personal best, or do more than they thought they were capable of, I feel like I have a piece of that. I know then, this is where I belong.”
To set up an evaluation email Wendkos directly.