Curious about the Piedmont Swim Team?
When my oldest son was 6 years old, he joined the Piedmont Swim Team. 2 years later, his younger brother joined as well. It was one of the best decisions for them physically, socially and mentally. Tryouts are coming up August 15th & 16th. I sat down with Stefan Bill, head coach for the Piedmont Swim Team since 2014, to talk about the team that has been such a big part of our lives.
What is the Piedmont Swim Team?
The Piedmont Swim Team is a year round swim team that swims out of 3 locations, Montclair Swim Club, Emeryville Community Pool and Mills College. Stefan hopes once the new Piedmont Community Pool is built, the team can go back to their home pool. Anyone between the ages of 6-18 can join Piedmont Swim Team if they pass the try out.
Who is Piedmont Swim Team head coach Stefan Bill?
Stefan grew up in Switzerland and swam for a very small, age group team. His sister and brother swam as well. Once he graduated high school he studied architecture, but coaching was his calling. Stefan became a volunteer coach and his team had immediate success on a national level. Stefan quickly realized he liked coaching more than being an architect.
After his studies, he moved to NY to work for a marketing firm. They allowed him to coach privately for 7 years. Then he was recruited by the St. Paul’s Boys School to rejuvenate their age group and aquatics program. During his 5 year tenure, the team won the national independent school title for the first time in the school’s 700 year history. “That was a lot of fun,” Stefan said. Once that finished he realized he wanted to move to the Bay Area.
Why did Stefan want to coach the Piedmont Swim Team?
While in London, Stefan felt the support in the UK for coaches wasn’t as intense as it was in the US. Plus, he’s always loved the East Bay. He visited San Francisco and Oakland often for master swim camps. So, when Piedmont advertised the job for head coach, Stefan decided to give it a go. He liked the board and swimmers, so when he recieved an offer he couldn’t refuse it.
What is the environment you have created and want to maintain for the team?
Stefan says It’s important, our young athletes blossom to the best they can be. He wants them to feel supported by their community. By community he is referring to teammates, coaching staff, parents, the parent board and the larger Piedmont community. Stefan says If they can feel that support they will blossom in the water and also as human beings and can contribute in a positive way to our society.
Let’s talk with PST swimmers: Josie Oesterer and Simon Lins
This year, Josie became the team’s new team captain. What has being on this team done for her? Josie says she’s been on the team for 9 years and it has defined her childhood and best memories. From the young age of 8 Josie was going to 2 practices and making her own schedule. She became responsible at a young age and grew her passion through determination and hard work.
This is Simon’s last year before he goes off to college on a swim scholarship. Simon told me, “WIth the help of Stefan, family and coaches I was fortunate enough to use swimming to help me pursue my next level of education and compete D1 for the University of Virginia.” Simon joined the team when he was 11 after his family moved to CA from Pennsylvania. 7 years later, Simon says he has developed a great relationship with the team and coach Stefan. He says swimming and being part of the team helped him become the man he is today.
Two leaders and a team of many more
Stefan says Simon and Josie are two amazing examples of the swimmers on the team right now. Simon has had great success in the water and has achieved almost the impossible, becoming a scholarship athlete at a D1 school. At the same time, Stefan says he has morphed into a role model for some of the younger swimmers. As for Josie, Stefan says she has become a natural amazing leader that has been cheering for everyone, pulling everyone together and is the most positive person. Stefan says if younger athletes have role models like Josie and Simon to look up to, then that is another wonderful thing that can come out of swimming with this team.
Who can join the PST and what can you tell us about the upcoming tryouts?
Anyone can join if they meet the standards. Stefan says they are accepting swimmers from ages 6-18, but encourages the younger swimmers to try out. 6-8 years olds need to be able to swim 25 yards of freestyle and backstroke. The team’s coaches will teach them the rest.
10-14 year olds need to have a little more skill. Swimmers should be able to swim 30 minutes non-stop with a comfortable breathing pattern and also know how to swim backstroke, breastroke and butterfly.
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