Coach Dani, alias General – since April a new coach has been leading Kids B and C groups in Iron Swim Budapest. Daniel Gogolák has been working as a teacher in Iron Swim School for two years, but now he’s working with the youngest competitive swimmers, too, as a coach.
Did you always dream about becoming a coach?
The dream was realized when I got to Iron. I was satisfied with my teacher’s positions, so am I now, but I think it is obvious that time to time everyone looks for new challenges. There are many things to learn in teaching as well, but the challenges are not so big, and I feel that I can solve everything easily. In the past two years I gained experience in fine-tuning the swimming techniques, how to learn to swim quickly, what the kids like. One time while I was teaching, Katinka was doing some technical drills and I saw some underwater movements, extra exercises that I could build in my teaching or even in my swimming. I think only a few can say that they are in such a unique situation.
In coaching what can you use from the experiences you gained from teaching?
For me democracy is important, I do not like sub- or superordination between the coach and kids, I prefer working with them as partners. I try to have them wanting to work, fight, train, because motivation comes easier that way, and the road will be more successful.
Do you think that 10-12-year old kids are mature enough to this attitude?
Certainly, the frames should be determined. I am consistent, but I do not push or press the kids, I do not expect too much from them, since they are young kids. I try to get them want to improve, either technically or in times and enjoy themselves.
What do you think the most important is for a competitive swimmer at this age?
Systematism! They must prepare more seriously, since they go to competitions. And certainly, the technique is always in focus, but we must follow the training plan because of the competitions. Systematism makes the frame for their life, that they could include swimming into their everyday life. It is a must for those who would like to do this sport seriously, but I think that many of them do their best for it.
The kids or the parents? Who do you think want it more?
As I can see the kids want it, but sometimes parents want it more. There I would like to get the kids to enjoy themselves, be part of a great team, be healthy and include sport in their everyday life.
What about you? How did you get to know swimming and how did you become a swimming teacher?
I started to swim at the age of six, I attended private lessons in Újhegy Swimming Pool. At first, I learnt breaststroke, then in the group lessons I added freestyle and backstroke, and at the age of eight I learnt butterfly as well. I attended sports primary school, we spent the whole day with my classmates either in school or at practice sessions. I enjoyed that there were many of us together, I always had somebody to have fun with, it was buzzling, and I grew to like sport and swimming. As a competitive swimmer I did not belong to top, but I swam relatively good times in butterfly and breaststroke, too. When I started high school, I felt that this was not going to be my path, I chose studying instead. I continued sport as a hobby, I started for example kempo to have my self-confidence and steadiness despite of my short stature, to be able to defend myself and my friends. After my graduation I started my studies in Óbuda University as electrical engineer, but I left it, because I did not have the patience to sit all day. I worked for half a year as a loader at the airport, where I learnt many lessons about life, and I continued my studies happily in Pécs as PE teacher and coach. During university years I returned to swimming, because I felt it necessary both mentally and physically. I acquired sports coach degree, too, and in my last year I helped the university by holding swimming lessons for primary school pupils. I grew to love teaching there. I was fascinated by the kids’ honesty, I felt that they trusted me, they counted on me, I was happy about the positive feedback.
How different do you think a teacher’s or a coach’s task?
They are different. In Iron 1-2 the focus is on pedagogy and my character. They love me the way I am. In deep water, Iron 3-4-5 things are getting more and more serious, the age groups are also different. I must deal with the kids with more awareness, sometimes I even let them chat with each other, too, to relax a bit. As a coach you must reach a standard, if you want to achieve results with the kids.
You have been working with your groups for a week, what are your experiences?
Slowly, I’m getting to know the kids, the work ethic is getting better and better. There are some behavior problems with one or two kids, but overall, I am very satisfied with them. I feel that I have begun to earn their trust. They try to get my attention, they count on my opinion, they ask what Coach Dani thinks on this and that.
Do they call you Coach Dani?
Yes, Coach Dani, Dani or General.
I’m usually strict with them, probably that is what started their imagination, but I do not mind at all.