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Murray Journal

Cottonwood’s Lockwood named western regional swim coach of the year

Feb 21, 2019 12:33PM ● By Carl Fauver

Assistant Cottonwood High School swim coaches Kailee Sandberg (L) and Ashton Palmer (R) surround the Colts’ NFHS Regional Swim and Dive Coach of the Year, Ron Lockwood. (Photo courtesy Ron Lockwood)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

“He is such a great coach; ever since leaving the (Cottonwood High School) swim team, I have grown to appreciate his coaching and motivation more and more,” said Christian Simon, in describing the man who guided his Colt team to a second-place finish at last year’s Utah 5A state swimming finals.

And a prestigious national organization has concurred – Ron Lockwood is a pretty good coach.

Last month, Lockwood learned he had been voted 2017-18 West Coach of the Year – for Boys Swimming and Diving – by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Lockwood was selected among nominees from Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.

“To be totally honest, everything I have heard about the award came through the Cottonwood High School administration,” Lockwood said. “(The NFHS) did not even send me a letter. But that’s OK because I don’t do this for personal accolades. I do it so my swimmers can be honored for their hard work and accomplishments.”

In its letter to Cottonwood High School Principal Terry Roylance, the NFHS said, “It is our pleasure to recognize leaders and role models at the interscholastic levels. We rely on our member state associations to help us recognize those who are leading their sport, shaping their athletes and contributing in a positive way to their community.”

Roylance says the NFHS got it right.

“Ron is such a great mentor and is so inspirational to his swimmers,” she said. “I love his approach to coaching. He is demanding, but encouraging. He pulls swimmers aside individually to tell them exactly what they need to do to improve. Ron is extremely humble and does not like the limelight. I am so pleased he has earned this honor and so happy to have him working with our students.”

Former CHS swimmer Simon, quoted above, is now a freshman at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, where he is finishing up his freshman season as a varsity swimmer for the Stags, competing in several individual events and relays.

“Coach (Lockwood) knows just how to push you, to get the best for the team and for yourself,” he said. “He’s also a great person to talk to. After talking with him I always felt better and more motivated. He is very deserving of this award.”

The honor is a far cry from where Lockwood was a quarter century ago, when the college program he was swimming for collapsed.  That unexpected twist, in the spring of 1994, brought the coach to Utah.

“I grew up in Stockton, California and was a decent high school swimmer before graduating in 1992,” Lockwood said. “Then, after swimming two years for Fresno State University, the school dropped men’s swimming. But our coaches helped get me and a teammate onto the BYU swim team. It was a great experience and I graduated from there in 1997.”

As a BYU senior, Lockwood was a team captain and helped guide the Cougar swimmers to “their first conference championship in about 20 years.”

In the 22 years since, Lockwood has essentially done nothing but coach swimming – at BYU, Lone Peak and American Fork high schools, a Colorado high school, the Air Force Academy and the University of Utah.

About the time he left the U of U (2008), Lockwood was encouraged to help create a team he still coaches today – the Wasatch Front Fish Market Swim Team.

“We had nine swimmers that first year,” Lockwood said. “We are now up to about 250 boys and girls, as young as age 6... all the way up to the collegiate level.”

Lockwood and his wife of 17 years, Melanie, make their home in Eagle Mountain, where daughter Ashlyn, 14, is a swimmer, while son Bennett, 12, plays soccer.

“I demand a lot of my swimmers,” Lockwood concluded. “Over the past 20 years I have taken (coaching techniques) from so many places. We have found a system that works. We take care of our swimmers individually and work to develop them as people as well as athletes.”

Fish Market team members this year hail from many different Salt Lake Valley high schools, and as far away as Bountiful and Provo.

Having just finished his seventh season as head coach of the Cottonwood teams, NFHS Regional Swim and Dive Coach of the Year Ron Lockwood continues to love what he does.