Science teacher finds second home coaching swimmers on the pool deck

October 31, 2023 — by Sunny Cao
Photo by Sunny Cao
Thomson has collage on her wall showing all the swim teams she has coached.
Science teacher Kristen Thompson splits her time between the pool and classroom, pushing athletes to do their best and assisting with the JV team.

Every spring, students walking along the pool might be surprised to see science teacher Kristen Thomson coaching the girls on the swim team. She can be seen patrolling the pool, encouraging swimmers to meet their set times and giving advice on swimmers’ strokes and form to stride faster and smoother in the water. 

Although Thomson has previously been a head coach for girls’ swimming, this year she has been working as an assistant coach. She has coached swimming for 24 years, often working with head coaches Coach Michael Allegretti and Coach Christian Bonner. 

Despite having to juggle four or five periods of classes as well as her busy family life, she has continued to coach swimming, ultimately spending around 12 hours per week on the pool deck during the season.

“I like getting to know students outside of the science classroom,” Thomson said. “I also loved being on my swim team when I was in high school. It was one of my highlights of high school, so I wanted to promote that to the students.” 

Beyond the joys of getting to know the students in a different context, she also believes being a swim coach can further promote healthy habits among students, who can exercise daily and make new friends. 

“I like to work out in groups,” Thomson said. “There’s something about being in pain together that brings people together.” 

She helps her JV athletes by giving suggestions for improvement, such as how to reach individual timing goals and also assists with injuries.

To further foster a family dynamic on the pool deck, Thomson said she always tries to push the athletes to perform their best while also comforting them in times of stress by making lighthearted jokes.

Junior Emma Moore has had Thomson as a coach since freshman year. She is also taking her AP Environmental Science class. 

“Her personality is actually pretty similar in the pool and in the classroom,” Moore said. “During intense practices or games, she would make jokes to the team to try and lighten the stress on us and make us laugh.” 

Despite her packed schedule during the swim season,  Thomson keeps coming back every year because of the environment that makes the experience memorable. 

“It’s the kids that make the experience unforgettable and I have the best coaching staff that I could ask for, so it’s like a big family out on the pool deck, so even when it’s rough, everything is still fun,” Thomson said.

Despite the toll to her schedule, Thomson said she appreciates being able to take on two completely different roles, both as a coach and teacher.

“The pool is like another home, so it’s nice to know that I have a home in the science department and a home on the pool deck as well,” Thomson said. 

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