Bryan Stambaugh is getting ready to begin his 24th year as a chemistry teacher at Middletown High School. He spent 12 of those years coaching the Cavaliers’ swim team. He then spent eight years as the girls head swim coach at Newark High School.
But before any of that ever happened, he was a coach for the Delaware Bluefish. And he’s still in that same role, celebrating his 25th season this summer.
“I keep coming back because I enjoy teaching the kids about swimming and watching them improve over time,” said Stambaugh, who spent his first season with the Bluefish as an assistant before being promoted to head coach the following year.
The Delaware Bluefish swim team is an instructional summer swim team that encourages participation and personal achievement. The team practices for two hours each morning, Monday through Friday, at the University of Delaware Outdoor Pool.
It was there on Saturday that the Bluefish honored Stambaugh for his 25 years of service with a new record board that bears his name and will hang on the wall at the pool. Among those in attendance were State Rep. Paul Baumbach, who presented Stambaugh with a proclamation for his 25 years of service, and Goodwin Cobb IV, a former Suburban Swim League president and current Bluefish treasurer and announcer.
“Bryan has been a pleasure to work with since my three children have been involved with the swim team over the past 10 years,” Cobb said. “He maintains a positive and supportive attitude toward the other members of the coaching staff and is devoted to ensuring a great learning experience for swimmers of all abilities. Bryan provides a positive, encouraging and challenging atmosphere in which all swimmers may improve their skills while he also stresses the importance of having fun.”
Stambaugh learned the importance of having fun as a swimmer during the summer months as a youngster growing up in Pennsylvania. He competed in the local summer league and then at Spring Grove High School before swimming at the University of Delaware.
“All of my stops have helped me to become the coach I am now,” Stambaugh said. “I have pulled ideas and techniques from all the coaches I have swam for and coached with.”
While many summer league teams have consistent turnover in their coaching ranks, the Bluefish have benefited from Stambaugh’s loyalty.
“Having the same coach over the last 25 years has definitely been a wonderful asset for our team, as families keep coming back summer after summer due to the outstanding coaching of Coach Bryan and his staff,” team coordinator Joanne Lombardi said.
One of those returning families is Stambaugh’s own. All four of his children swim for the Bluefish.
“The biggest challenge is making sure that I treat [my kids] the same as all the other members of the team,” he admitted. “The biggest benefit is teaching them something that I love and sharing a sport that has been a big part of my life.”
Coaching swimming at the high school level was part of Stambaugh’s life for 20 years, but he quickly pointed out that there is a difference between the two.
“For me, the summer is about developing kids and teaching a love for the sport,” he explained. “Winning is secondary, unlike high school.”
Despite having now coached the Bluefish for a quarter century, Stambaugh said he has no plans on retiring from the Bluefish anytime soon.
“It is an honor to be part of the kids’ journey, and trying to be a positive role model for them,” he said.