Nothing else like it: FAST head coach has big plans for the community in new elite swimming facility

Brian Schrader of Denver, CO, poses for a photo by the new 50 meter indoor pool that is under construction at the Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training (FAST) sports complex that is located adjacent to Calesa Township in Ocala on Oct. 22. Schrader will be the new head swimming coach at FAST. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Last month, Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training (FAST) named Brian Schrader head swim coach at its new elite facility, currently under construction within the master-planned community of Calesa Township in Ocala.

Schrader has big plans for the facility after its scheduled grand opening next year. With that said, he’s also glad to have the next five months to properly prepare what he hopes to offer the community starting in March.

“I’m happy with March because there’s a lot to do before then,” Schrader said. “We have to create all the programming. We have to hire staff. We have to hire a facilities director. We just have to get ready.”

As head swim coach, Schrader is responsible for all operational aspects of the swim team while also coaching all swimmers to attain their personal best in and out of the pool, regardless of age or fitness level.

The new facility will have indoor and outdoor pools to maximize deck space for up to 800 swimmers and over 2,000 spectator seats, which will help allow both warm-up and cool down swims during meets.

Whether outside in the sun or inside away from the cold, swimmers will find that the new facility makes either option possible, all-year round, for a variety of different athletes and events.

“There are seats for 700 people outside,” said Schrader. “So if we wanted to host an event out there, easily done.”

A splash pool with lounge seating and shade will also be available for younger swimmers. The facility will house an indoor fitness center, state-of-the-art scoreboards, men’s and women’s locker rooms and community meeting spaces.

“Everybody’s going to be excited to walk into that facility,” said Schrader. “I want to make sure that we’re running appropriate-level programs for everybody that wants to be involved, whether it’s the nine-year-old that is just learning to swim as a competitive athlete, to the high school athlete that just wants to stay involved for peer and community engagement, to the elite athlete hoping to make the Olympic team.”

The Circle Square Foundation’s mission and vision for FAST, according to its website, is to train swimmers and athletes of all ages and abilities to go beyond their best through exceptional coaching, premier facilities and cutting-edge athletic programs.

“Those initiatives alone from a private foundation are pretty amazing in and of itself,” said Schrader. “And then clearly the facility is going to support elite level swimming when it comes to either in the form of competitions, training trips, elite athletes that want to come train, and certainly the elite athletes that we’re going to develop because we’re creating our own pipeline.”

Bottom line, said Schrader, there is going to be nothing else like FAST’s new facility in Marion County when its finished.

“The community involvement—from teaching, providing swimming lessons free to every third grader—to what they’re intending on doing, providing quality programming for community access. It’s a pretty amazing thing that really caught my attention,” he explained.

With a decorated coaching career that encompasses coaching age-groupers, swim camps and collegiate athletes, to extensive international Olympic team experience, Schrader, an ASCA Level 5 coach, who holds a National Strength and Conditioning CSCS certification, will be the first head swim coach at the brand new facility.

Schrader was an assistant coach to Head Olympic Coaches Eddie Reese, Jack Bauerle and Greg Troy. He also served as head coach at the University of Denver for 13 seasons from 2006-2019. Currently, Schrader is lead assistant coach for the Cali Condors of the International Swimming League.

Growing up in northwestern Iowa, Schrader didn’t form a meaningful relationship with a pool till he moved to Greeley, Colorado, when he was 12 years old, but he fully understands what a community pool means to those who use it.

“[Community pools] become part of who you are,” he said. “It was a big part of the community where I grew up…the neighborhood pool across the street. It really becomes a part of your life.”

Marion County’s need for a new community pool began after lease agreements between the College of Central Florida (CF) and a nonprofit Ocala Aquatics ended.

Ocala Aquatics had leased the facility, offering swimming lessons and recreation team sports to the community since 2003.

CSF Aquatics, LLC managed by the same principal as the Foundation building the FAST pool, swooped in to help keep swimmers from being displaced during the new pool’s construction by entering into a lease agreement with the college, keeping its pool accessible through April 30, 2022.

“The idea of a community replacing a community pool grew into this amazing vision,” said Schrader of FAST’s under-construction facility. “That is just really unprecedented. Florida was desperate for an indoor-competition facility—and now it’s happening.”

Can the facility host a collegiate conference championship meet, asked Schrader. Certainly. Can international or collegiate teams come to the facility to train and race? Absolutely. What about high school swim teams? Unquestionably.

“It’s going to impact the community financially, socially and certainly on a performance basis,” he added. “There aren’t many facilities that can offer all that. It’s so unique.”

Schrader admitted to being really lucky in his coaching life to have had such good mentors coming up. He said he’s happy that he can share all that’s he learned in his career with Marion County as FAST’s head swim coach.

“They all have different styles, but they all have good team cultures,” said Schrader of his many-acclaimed mentors. “And they all created an environment where people are moving forward and taking care of one another. And certainly that’s what we want to create here.”

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