A Conversation with Azura Florida Aquatics Coach Guilherme Ferreira
By Julia Galan
Hailing from Colombo, Brazil, Azura Florida Aquatics coach Guilherme Ferreira has been immersed in the world of swimming since he first started competing at the age of 10 with the newly-formed Amaral Swimming School. During his 8-year career as a competitive swimmer, Guilherme was ranked among the top 5 swimmers in Brazil for the Age Group and Junior Nationals, and achieved state champion status over 40 times in his respective age group.
Guilherme began coaching for his home team in 2004, assisting his former coach and leading swim lessons for both children and adults. In 2006, he became Head Coach. Under his guidance, the team achieved the best results in its entire history, becoming Senior State Champions and placing second in the Age Group State Championships.
In 2008, Guilherme moved to Moscow, Russia, where he graduated from the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports and Tourism with a Master’s in Athletic Training and Preparation. He came to the United States in 2011 to continue his coaching career in Florida. We caught up with Guilherme recently to talk about his coaching experience in the United States, and his goals for the future.
JG: Tell me what your coaching experience in the United States has been like so far?
GF: I started out in 2011 with the Davie Nadadores Swim Team, where I gained an amazing experience working with Masters, age groupers, high school swimmers and elite-level swimmers. In addition to swimming, I worked with some of the groups on specialized strength training. Among the many successes Davie Nadadores had, we brought the age group team from 37th place to 2nd in the Summer Junior Olympics. We also saw the emergence of several high school state champions and 2 medalists at the World Championships: a silver by Dylan Carter at the World Junior Championships in 2013 and a bronze by Felipe Lima at the World Championships in Barcelona 2013. From the base to the top, my coaching experience has been extremely satisfying. In September 2013, when Davie Nadadores finished its swimming activities, Coach Gianluca Alberani created the new Azura Florida Aquatics. At Azura, I coach the Masters, Elite, and Age Group teams and direct the Strength Training program.
JG: In addition to being a coach, you’re also a Masters swimmer! What are your favorite events?
GF: Although I consider myself more of a Masters Coach than a Masters Swimmer, my favorite events are the 200 backstroke and the 200 IM. As a swimmer I used to swim 200 and 400 IM, 200 back, 100 fly and back, sprint, middle distance, open water. I actually like every distance and stroke!
JG: Where do your swimmers train? Do you sometimes combine Masters with other groups?
GF: We swim at the JCC in Davie, Florida (30 minutes from Miami). The Masters program is connected to the Azura Florida Aquatics. Practices are early in the morning: 5:30 to 7:00. Sometimes we combine some sets together with our High School Swimmers, which is an exciting challenge for our Masters swimmers.
JG: What competitions do you participate in?
GF: Our age group teams participate in local, regional, national and international competitions. Our Masters team participates in local Masters Meets and we are also planning to attend the World Masters Championships in Canada next August.
JG: Azura Florida Aquatics just started as a new team in September 2013. What recent accomplishments have you had as a team so far?
GF: We just finished competing in the Spring Junior Olympics in Coral Springs, Florida, where our 11-12 boys’ team placed 1st overall and we received 4th place overall in the combined team scores. We also had 12 finals out of 15 events at the Junior Nationals, with two top 5 finishers. We had a High School State Champion and several medalists. Brazilian Olympian Felipe Lima, who swims for Azura, won 6 medals in the World Cup Circuit and placed 3rd at the BP Challenge in Australia. Honestly, we are proud of these stunning results, but our biggest motivation is to develop every single swimmer in order to reach their personal best in swimming and in life, regardless of their level. From this perspective, I am sure we are accomplishing our goals.
JG: What are your short-term and long-term goals as a swimmer and as a coach?
GF: As a swimmer, I just want to enjoy swimming and swim the fastest I am able to. As a coach, I want to help my swimmers fully enjoy this sport and the sportsmanship involved. I want them to reach the maximum potential of their abilities with joy and fair play.
JG: Does this also reflect your coaching philosophy?
GF: Yes, it does. My coaching philosophy is to develop the individual abilities of every swimmer, and let them enjoy the sport. On the pool deck I try to give the swimmers practices that take them out of their comfort zone, both physically and mentally. I want them to know that every lap counts and every stroke is taken with a purpose and for a reason.
JG: What has been your most rewarding experience as a swimmer and a coach?
GF: As a swimmer the most rewarding experience I had was all the friends I made in the pool and all the camaraderie and friendship I found over the years. As a coach, helping the kids to reach their goals and enjoy this amazing sport has been my most rewarding experience.
JG: Any favorite drills or workouts you want to share?
GF: That is a tough question! But I like drills that “force” the swimmer to swim correctly without thinking too much about it, and after the drills have the swimmer incorporate the technique that he learned from the drill.
JG: Thanks for your time, Guilherme! We wish you and the Azura Florida Aquatics all the best!