West Texas Swim Coaching LLC provides Amarillo families with swimming lessons, kids group swim workouts, and a USA Swimming team (NWTX Islanders).


Coaches for West Texas Swim Coaching

Founder of WTSC and Head Coach - Tom Harris

  • Level 2 USA Swimming Coach

  • Level 3 US Masters Swimming Coach

  • Level 5 American Swimming Coaches Association Coach (Education)

  • Member of the American Swimming Coaches Association

  • Master’s Degree in Education (counseling) 

  • Former Total Immersion Swim Coach

  • Former Xterra Triathlete

  • ​Retired USMC Infantry Officer

Yoga Instructor for the Northwest Texas Islanders - Kristin Dow

  • 200-hour Yoga Certification

  • Certified Fitness Group Trainer with 13-years Experience

  • Former Elementary School Teacher

  • Master’s Degree in Education (curriculum development) 

  • Marathon Runner

  • Mother of Swimmers Owen and Kaden

Mission Statement

To provide USMC style leadership and technique-focused swim training to create joy through active physical lives involving fitness, camaraderie, and adventure.

Training Philosophy​ - Technique First

The NWTX Islanders is a technique-first team. This is what we do well. In the long run, it will, I am convinced, produce more swimmers who reach their potential.

Bill Boomer, without any experience in competitive swimming, became coach of the Rochester University swim team in 1961. Looking at swimming without the blinders

of tradition, he determined that reducing resistance is more important than conditioning, “The shape of the vessel matters more than the size of the engine.” (He also developed the modern track start.)


This technique-first idea was revolutionary in swimming. Prior to Boomer, we had little understanding of efficient swim technique and depended on a natural selection process of finding and developing good swimmers. See Coach Doc Counsilman's 1971 The X Factor speech to the American Swimming Coaches Association for an explanation of this system.


Coach Boomer's technique-first ideas were used by retired swim coach Terry Laughlin and his Total Immersion (TI) coaching organization to successfully train thousands of adult swimmers during the triathlon boom of the last several decades. I was one of those triathletes and eventually a TI coach.


Coach Laughlin taught us that because water is a thousand times denser than air, minimizing resistance trumps conditioning in swimming unlike in running or bicycling. AND resistance increases at the square of speed meaning that swimmers quickly reach a point that increases in power do not increase speed (hull speed).


Technique-first thinking has become mainstream in swimming publications (see Swim Speed Strokes by Taormina or The Swimming Triangle by Baker for example.), but has had little effect on the conduct of most swim team practices. Coaches who swam tend to run practice the way their coaches did 30 years ago. And with little time to prepare large numbers of swimmers for a meet, coaches see little choice but to go for the quick fix. 


But this quick fix/traditional training method is uncritically accepted in the swimming community. Recently an extremely intelligent, highly educated, life long competitive swimmer with some coaching background told me that to swim 400 yards fast, you need to swim at least 4,000 yards a day 6 days a week. Really? Even if that were true, if you put all that conditioning before developing perfect technique, you are hard wiring bad technique—practice makes permanent.


So that's the theory. West Texas Swim Coaching will always be technique-oriented and the Islanders will always be a technique-first team. We have and will gladly continue to train swimmers for the Amarillo Swim Team. Some swimmers (we can only accommodate about 16) may choose to stay with our team. I want the Islanders to have a friendly competitive relationship with the Amarillo Swim Team that benefits both teams. If you're ready to go to the Amarillo Swim Team, please do. But stay there and make it work.


I welcome your feedback.

Coach Harris