Former Buckeye Standout Joel Elber Named Head Swimming Coach At Lawrence North
Photographer: Ron Wise
Swimming is a strange sport. Swimmers compete individually, but they are part of a team and a larger community. It can be incredibly communal, despite being an “individual” sport. Few understand this more than Joel Elber. Elber is a family man, Cleveland sports enthusiast and Lawrence North High School’s new swimming coach. Being an incredibly accomplished swimmer himself, the new coach hopes to create swim teams that are a credit to Lawrence.
While growing up in Brunswick, Ohio, Elber loved sports, especially swimming. His swimming skill even earned him a scholarship to The Ohio State University. During his time as a Buckeye, Elber became an accomplished swimmer. He earned seven-time All-American swimmer honors, was a three-year team captain and a Big Ten Champion.
After graduating college, Elber decided to stay in the world of swimming. He took a few professional coaching jobs and briefly swam professionally at Team Elite in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then this past July, Elber agreed to become the full-time swim Coach for Lawrence North, largely because Lawrence reminds him of his small hometown outside of Cleveland.
The new coach has lofty goals for Lawrance North’s swim team. While he aims to score in the state swim meet, Elber’s highest priority is creating a great experience for his athletes.
“I’m in the business of putting smiles on athletes’ faces,” he says.
Elber believes his athletes-first approach will ultimately create good swimmers and help develop swimming team’s presence in Lawrence.
One way that Elber plans to create good athletes is requiring good old-fashioned hard work. While all athletic endeavors reward hard work, few sports rival swimming’s correlation between effort and results.
“At the end of the season you get exactly what you deserve, to the hundredth of a second,” Elber says. “Swimming is a very unforgiving sport in that regard.”
However, Elber is not what you would call an “old-fashioned” coach. Swimming is heavily filled with traditions and norms, and Elber vocally states that not all of them are for the better. For example, many traditional coaches demand constant, lengthy and uninterrupted pool time. Elber, on the other hand, believes in the psychological benefit of breaks.
“I’m far more interested in creating great people and having this be a positive experience than squeezing an extra couple hundredths of a second out,” he says.
Looking to the future, Elber hopes his dedicated and nontraditional approach will benefit his athletes and the larger Lawrence community. To help invigorate the sport in his new hometown, Elber is even open to people sitting on meets. Anyone who wants can see the meet schedule online, but most meets are Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the year.
For more information, visit lnwildcats.ltschools.org.