Dani Caldwell | Swimming Towards Better Achievement
Yells and cheers bounce around the domed aquatic center as several young swimmers for the Southern Utah Swimming Association (SUSA) ready themselves on the blocks. Dani Caldwell blows her whistle. They dive and begin challenging each other for the lead.
SUSA, which Dani now directs, began in 2001 as a summer league recreational swim team for youth age 7-18.
Dani’s main purpose with the team is to develop the athletes into leaders.
“They come in here and learn to be better leaders,” she explains. “They learn to work with others, so they then can give back to the community.”
During the swim season, the students go to region championships to compete against other schools. Each one of them wearing caps for their own school. A week later is the High School State Championships where all the swimmers compete on one team.
Dani is extremely proud of the SUSA team. It shows in her face and in the way she talks about the event
“It throws all of the kids together into a super meet,” Dani said. “At that time, all of our kids are wearing a SUSA cap, and that’s a sense of community that they can’t get anywhere else. It gives me the chills. Kids that were fighting against each other for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. Now they are together, helping each other on the same relays.”
Dani explains that not only is SUSA just a swim team, but it’s a family. “We jokingly refer to it as a ‘swamily,’” she laughs.
Dani explains how coaching can be a bit of a challenge at times.
“It’s a bit of a roller coaster,” Dani said. “When they have a disappointments, you feel that too. Likewise, if they have a great race, not rubbing it in other people’s faces. Having and showing good sportsmanship.”
Ultimately, what Dani believes and integrates so well into SUSA is what she explains as the second meaning of the acronym SUSA: Strength, Unity, Service, and Achievement. This credo is what she really wants her kids to practice.