I knew I wanted to be a coach when I was fourteen years old. That was the first year I had a really great coach, and it changed me so dramatically that I knew I wanted to have the same impact.
I’ve been a Division 1 college swim coach at University of Pennsylvania and Georgia Tech. I was a Danish Junior National Team coach for two years.
At Chris DeSantis coaching, I’ve also worked with some of the top college teams, clubs and swimming organizations, teaching Positive Psychology and how to apply it to the daily lives of coaches, athletes and parents.
In both 2017 and 2018, I worked with Bridge Bats Swim Club in Houston, Texas. Bridge Bats had a swimmer win a USA Swimming Junior National title in both the 50 and 100 freestyle in 2018.
In the 2018-2019 season, I worked with University of Houston and Washington State University. Houston was able to win their third straight conference title. Washington State got its first NCAA qualification in nearly a decade.
I’ve also been a headline speaker for Midwestern Swimming, LSC and the Gulf Swimming LSC.
In 2009 I received a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). I was the first full time athletic coach to get this degree, and remain the only active person in swimming. When I got my education, it was purely for selfish reasons- I wanted to be a better coach for the people i coached.
The more I coached, the more I realized that a lot of what I had learned was theory and not application. So I worked out the application myself, figuring out what works and what didn’t work and how it fit into the context of the work coaches and athletes were already doing.
My goal when working with an individual or group is to teach the skills of having a more positive, meaningful and rewarding experience competing in sports. I do that teaching a unique set of research-backed knowledge and implementation of that knowledge.
One-on-one Resilience Training:
In addition to the large scale work I do with groups, I also provide one-to-one coaching with coaches and athletes. One-on-one work allows for a heavy degree of personalization.
Often those I work with come because they care deeply about their sport but are frustrated by some or all of their process of doing it. I teach athletes and coaches to find the best possible way to work within their circumstances and get the absolute best experience.
Please note that when working with minor athletes, I insist on rules for the safety of everyone involved. I do not engage in any private electronic communication (e-mail, phone, text, social media). All such communication must have an adult copied. If I meet in person with a client of any age, I insist that such meetings take place in a public space, or if within a home that it be in a room with an open door and can be interrupted at any time. For online video conferencing, I will make a video recording of the entire conversation for the purposes of transparency.
Eric C, (Coached for four years) :
I came to Chris with a bag full of lofty expectations for myself. After a freshman year where I changed majors twice and lost a merit scholarship as a result of poor academic performance; and a sophomore year where I thought that I would never final at conference championships ever again. After all of this, I was eventually able qualify for the NCAA championships in an individual event in what was supposed to be the final swim of my career - a far cry from my prior performance. Chris was an instrumental part of my pivot towards success inside and outside the pool.
Chris's acknowledgement of my entire identity was his most significant act as a coach. When inconsistency shook the foundations of my confidence, Chris looked beyond my performance and dredged the problems that were plaguing me outside of the pool. By giving me the space and support that I needed to excel in my own life, Chris coached me into athletic accomplishment as a secondary effect of my self actualization.
Defying traditional coaching principles, Chris led me through a practice plan that prioritized my mental and physical health above all else. This plan included a schedule that eliminated or altered traditionally unquestioned methods, which resulted in me swimming less hours. These fewer hours in the pool were more focused, and addressed my personal needs as an athlete.
Chris constantly innovates. His pragmatic outlook on athletics helped him look beyond the textbook and empowered him to make game-changing coaching decisions. Noticeably, this mentality transcended the pool and into his personality. If I ever had an issue in school or in my personal life, he would address it thoughtfully, without reliance on a playbook of coaching platitudes in order to communicate or foster my growth as a person.
Chris might not be my day-to-day coach, but his principles remain. In my professional life, I approach complexity that I encounter as a designer with a pragmatism that leaves simplicity and clarity in my wake. The confidence that he exuded in his decision-making is something that I seek to emulate everyday
Emilie F (Coached for two years):
Chris’ had an innovative ways of coaching was just one example of how he taught me a new aspect of swimming. Every race specific detail was trained to perfection every day.
Chris always brought a positive mindset to practice. This was extremely motivating and stimulating. Swimmers enjoyed coming to practice everyday and putting effort in the work.
Chris cared for each swimmer is something that has made a big impression on me. He engaged in every swimmer’s improvement and on top of that it was important for him to support the swimmers in their everyday life. For example he encouraged me to participate in social events when I first started in high school. He believed that for a swimmer to be successful in sports, they should also have a well-functional everyday life.
Chris taught me to take individual responsibility for my own development. I developed a new maturity. I learned to make my own judgements of what is important and what’s not. This was a time in my life where I grew as a person.
Chris has a great eye for details. Starts and turns were something that I especially improved during my time with Chris.
Chris taught me to believe in myself, my capability in swimming and exceed what I thought were my limits. When I made my comeback in International swimming (qualifying for Nordic Junior Championships and later on that season qualifying for European Junior Championships) I remember him saying: “You are still just figuring out what you are capable of.” I think that this specific sentence is something that I will always remember.
Alex M, (Coached for one year):
I really enjoyed the way he works on perfecting technical aspects such as starts, turns, and underwater swimming. Not many coaches spend as much time as necessary on polishing this skills and we did it with Chris.
It seems simple but it's not. Chris taught me to interrupt bad patterns in my bad training and replace it with new ones. Most coaches have a program to follow and they can't be bother to adjusted it in order to adapt it to every swimmers’ requirement. This is one of the many things that made Chris' coaching great. He adjusts everything to each one’s requirements and needs and due to that each swimmer was able to achieve their best.
Chris' focus on the psychological side when it comes to training or competing. It was especially crucial for the young athletes he was coaching. Although he coached me when I was an adult, I wish I had a coach like him when I was going through high school. He showed basic values to the swimmers: how to listen, learn, work together and play off others' strengths. This proved to me that he is someone that cares a bout the “people" and not just the “athletes”.
Chris takes sport to the next level. He will not only teach you how to swim faster but how to improve your swimming while making you a better person.
Everyday, I approach practice the way I learned while swimming with Chris: “I swim because this is what I love so I will do it the best I can”. At the same time, for me, swimming is no longer an individual sport so I really try to build a strong net between the members of the team where I swim.