Get To Know Georgia Southern's Nathan Kellogg

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

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Created January 19th, 2011 04:28:32 PM

Modified January 19th, 2011 04:30:16 PM

This interview is with Georgia Southern University’s Nathan Kellogg. Coach Kellogg, who is currently in his seventh season as the head coach of the GSU swimming program, has had a very successful coaching career thus far.

During his career Coach Kellogg’s swimmers have practically rewritten the entire Eagle record book. At last year’s CCSA Championships alone the Eagles set 17 new team records.

Coach Kellogg’s swimmers have excelled in the classroom as well as in the pool. Last year the Eagle swimmers were ranked as high as 13th among Division 1 Swimming and Diving programs with a 3.45 GPA.

In this SwimUtopia interview Coach Kellogg tells us about what caused him to go into coaching and what he expects from Georgia Southern the rest of this season.

Let’s get started!

What team do you currently coach for?
Georgia Southern University

How many years have you been with the team?

What made you choose to take the coaching position?
Well, I was originally hired as the Graduate Assistant in order to get my master’s degree. Shortly after the season began, the coach who hired me took another position. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to be the interim head coach as a 22-year old graduate student. When the full-time position re-opened later the following Spring, it was something I felt I had to go for so I applied, was hired, and I have been at Georgia Southern ever since.

What do you expect from Georgia Southern the rest of this season?
We expect continued hard work, focus on team performances, and tough racing as we approach our championship season. One specific team goal we have for the CCSA Championships is to achieve 80% lifetime best times. Academically, we always expect outstanding preparation and commitment from our swimmers and divers. In fact, it’s less of an expectation and more of a demand.

What other teams or schools did you coach at before coming to GSU?
I began coaching when I was 16 for the Sandston Stingrays, a local summer league team, from 1997-2003, then at Burkwood Aquatic Club the following summer of 2004, and have been at Georgia Southern since 2004.

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in coaching?
I think getting our swimmers to believe they can do something they have never done before (a certain set that looks impossible or achieving a goal time) is a monumental accomplishment in itself. When our women are confident, they are dangerous and that is very exciting to watch. I would also have to include winning the Georgia Southern University Athletics Academic Award in 2009-2010, for having the top team GPA. 

Is there any particular moment that stands out in your mind from coaching?
Wow, there are so many but two that stand out are in 2008 we won the 200-Free Relay and during the race I had to stop cheering because I was so out of breath (and realized I had to start working out again). In 2009, our team set 17 school records at our conference championship meet and we had something like 96% lifetime best times.

What motivates you as a coach?
Our coaching staff, our student-athletes, and being internally driven to get better. The energy and enthusiasm our coaches bring each day, as well as observing them using different methods I never considered to help our swimmers and divers improve is certainly infectious and inspiring. Our women absolutely motivate me to be a better coach, learn more about the sport, learn more about them as individuals, and help them succeed. I am very much internally driven and place a high value on comparing our team and myself against ourselves – what we can improve, what we did to improve, etc. – not necessarily against other programs. Very simply, I just want to do better than I did the previous day, week, month, and year.

What do you do to motivate your swimmers?
We are very team-oriented so a lot of times our coaching staff prefaces whatever set we are doing to connect individual performances to the overall team performance. For example, we’ll do a set where, if each individual makes their goal time by a specific repeat, we’ll end the set and move on with practice. We often do get-out swims in the middle of a set which fires up our team and they are able to do go really fast even when tired. Because they typically do well in the “surprise get-out swims,” that is a major boost to their confidence. Also, we try to celebrate little victories throughout the season. For example, we do a 1,000 kick for time a few times throughout the season and keep an All-Time Top-10 list. We have a sophomore who has broken the “team record” twice this season. We post motivational quotes weekly in the team’s locker room that usually relate to the power of team or overcoming adversity. We are also not afraid to let our swimmers know that we believe in them – as individuals and as a team. Otherwise, our seniors have done a tremendous job of being positive and encouraging.

Do you have any personal routines before the start of a swim meet?
I always take our staff out to dinner the night before a meet. I bring our lifeguards and aquatics staff coffee and donuts at home meets. Otherwise, I just drink an absurd amount of coffee and water, chomp on gum or cough drops, and try to appear relaxed and confident.

What caused you to go into coaching?
At the end of my junior year of college I couldn’t stop thinking or talking about swimming and knew that I would terribly miss being around a cohesive team environment. The summer after I graduated, I interned in an office setting and couldn’t stand it. That is when I really knew I belonged on the pool deck. The challenges and triumphs that each day/season brings, the lasting relationships that develop, the unique bond between coaches and swimmers, and the camaraderie of a unified group is something that is addictive and, I would imagine, very difficult to find in another profession.

What are some things that people may not know about you?
I am right handed, but clap left handed. I have never seen any of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter movies. I love history and will read anything by Pat Conroy and Tom Wolfe. I could not swim breastroke legally until I was about 16. I put hot sauce on just about everything. One of my life goals is to see a game at every Major League Baseball stadium.

Please provide any additional information about yourself that you might want to include!
I swam at George Mason University (2000-2004) and majored in Public Relations.