On January 14, 2017, longtime Swim and Dive Coach Chuck Elrick achieved his 600th win when both the Boys and Girls teams defeated The Hotchkiss School.
Under his leadership, the Hopkins Varsity Swim and Dive Teams have flourished, becoming major competitors in the top division of the New England Prep School Swimming Association (NEPSSA) and travelling all over New England to compete.
Asked about how he ended up coaching the Hilltoppers, he said “[Growing up, I] was in the water more than I was out of it.” His love for the sport led him to become head lifeguard in college and to give swim lessons in Woodbridge. He began coaching after Amity High School coach Bob Burns offered him a position as assistant coach. “From there,” Elrick said, “it’s history.”
The winningest coach in Hopkins history is quick to credit his athletes for their role in his success and victories. Elrick said, “[The 600 wins] are not my wins; it’s just that I am the only one that has been here through them all. If the makeup of the teams were any different, I would not be at this point right now. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with some great athletes.”
This milestone was accomplished through hard work, tireless training, and serious dedication to the sport. Elrick said, “The common trait [in the best swimmers] is selflessness. A hard working attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes for the team [is vital].”
These wins are as much the coach’s as the teams’, however, and Elrick’s dedication and work ethic have proven integral to the program’s success. Before each meet, Elrick reviews times from the other team’s top swimmers, predicts the competition’s lineup, and uses his calculated predictions to give the Hilltoppers the best possible chance of success.
“[Coach Elrick] has shown everyone the value of hard work, and how little excuses matter. His 600 wins are just a testament to these principles,” said captain Phil Ross ’17.
Amy An ’18 was also quick to credit Elrick: “The amount of care, effort, and dedication Chuck puts into the swim team is what motivates me, and many others, to do our best at every meet. He is one of the most caring people I've ever met, the most committed coach I've ever had, and the most deserving person of 600 wins.”
A lot has changed in the 34 years since Coach Elrick took the helm from previous coach Bud Erich, after whom the current Hopkins pool is named. Before the Athletic Center opened in 1986, Elrick would drive swimmers to Albie Booth Boys Club to practice. Because of this drive, the team lost valuable practice time--a necessity in a sport where committed practice is crucial for success and long and demanding practices are expected. “Swimming is a sport that takes a lot of effort. Missing two to three days in a row will put you back one to two weeks in your training. If you want to be good, you need to commit to the sport,” Elrick said.
The transition to Hopkins was not an easy one. Elrick said, “Following Bud Erich was very difficult. He was everyone's "buddy" and that was not what I was trying to do. I wanted to push this program to be the best sport at Hopkins. That first year I had resistance as the swimmers did not expect to work as hard as I was asking them to. After a couple years, as the program become more acclimated with what I was expecting, then it became a little easier. Further down the road, it was the swimmers that expected it from themselves.”
Elrick’s many years at Hopkins have also produced a variety of traditions (most of which are incentives for swimmers to improve) and memories. Elrick selects a swimmer or diver of the week, whose name is printed on a large banner in the natatorium.