Sports

Coaches David Fox and David Gardner Guide Team to Second Consecutive Easterns Title

Coaches David Fox and David Gardner have led Andover to a current undefeated season.

In Head Coach David Fox’s ninth year as Head Coach and Assistant Coach David Gardner’s fourth year with the team, Andover Boys Swimming has won six total and four consecutive New England Championships and two consecutive Easterns Championships. In addition, Fox and Gardner have pioneered the team to a three year undefeated record.

According to Hank Yang ’22, the coaches’ success stems from their achievement-oriented mindset.

“[Fox and Gardner are] good coaches because they’re very goal oriented and they’re also really meticulous in how they do things. Coach Fox and Coach Gardner plan out the whole season and lay out goals for us and train us to be able to achieve those goals. On top of that, they’re not one of those coaches who is always pestering you and reminding you of what to do. They set up goals for you but then they let you do your thing and let the team work together to move towards a common goal,” said Yang.

How do you work together?

Coach Fox: Coach Gardner is great with strategy and working directly with the boys on the team. Anyone who knows us both also recognizes that his emotional intelligence is exponentially better than mine, so he reads the swimmers and situations really well. He also reminds me of how the swimmers view me, which helps, too.

Coach Gardner: I feel lucky to get to work with Coach Fox. He cares deeply about each swimmer on the team and holds them to high standards—both as swimmers and as human beings. He has high expectations, he sincerely believes in each swimmer’s ability to meet or exceed their goals, and he knows that the success of the team depends on each and every team member. Additionally, Coach Fox motivates the swimmers to focus on the things they can control—consistently working hard, remembering the details, maintaining healthy habits, embodying good sportsmanship and integrity, striving toward personal goals, supporting their teammates—rather than the things they can’t control, like how or what other teams might do. Finally, Coach Fox is organized and detail-oriented, building spreadsheets and lists of data and preparing thoroughly for every season, practice, and competition.

What are your favorite memories from over the years as coaches?

Coach Fox: My favorite memory is when the 2013 team unanimously voted to boycott the New England Championships—and a pretty certain four-peat—because the league had changed the rules for how many boys could swim at the championship, [leaving out] some of their teammates. Supporting their peers rather than winning remains a great moment for me.

What have been some successes this season?

Coach Fox: The team’s primary success so far is having trained harder than any team I’ve seen and seeing that pay off at Easterns. With three weeks until New Englands, the boys are focused on turning things around and going faster.

Coach Gardner: The team has focused and trained hard all season, and it’s gratifying to see that effort culminate in fast swims and personal best times. It’s wonderful, as well, to watch the swimmers cheer each other on and take real joy in the success of their teammates. I also admire the team for their sportsmanship, as they consistently congratulate their competitors, regardless of the outcome of the race.

What makes this year’s team special?

Coach Fox: This year’s team is a great combination of people. We have, in the class of 2020, the best Andover class of swimmers since 1949 (which had Jimmy McLane, who won two Olympic Gold Medalists in the summer between his Upper and Senior years as well as Richard Thoman, who went on to set a World Record). More importantly, the class of 2020 contains strong leadership that is passing lessons along to the newer swimmers. This all makes my job really easy; they spoil me [a lot].

Coach Gardner: One other thing I love about this team is how readily they will put the team’s needs over their own individual wishes—for instance, swimming a different event or switching up a relay (sometimes with short notice) when it makes sense for the good of the team.