It is rare for college athletes to have the experience and knowledge of an Olympian at their disposal, but the new men’s and women’s full-time swimming assistant coach, Howard Hinds, brings all that and more.
Hinds, a 2020 inductee into the Springfield Athletic Hall of Fame, returns home to Alden Street this semester and hopes to make a big impact on the program.
Growing up on a small island in the Caribbean, Netherlands Antilles, Hinds recalls swimming always being an important aspect of his life. “I grew up on an island, so everyone needed to know how to swim. I’ve been swimming since I was four years old,” says Hinds.
He arrived at Springfield College in 1996, and to say he left his mark on the swimming program would be an understatement. Breaking numerous records, including five in 1999, he was also named NEWMAC Swimmer of the Year twice.
Hinds was even the co-recipient of the Robert Muir Award, which is given to the senior swimmer who scored the highest number of points during their college career at the New England Championships.
To this day, he still holds the program record for the 100 freestyle at 45.08 seconds, which he set during his tremendous 1999 campaign.
“That’s probably the easiest one hundred free style I’ve ever swam in my life, like I got out and I wasn’t even tired,” said Hinds.
Hinds was not limited to collegiate achievements, as he took his talents to the international level, competing in the 1999 and 2003 Pan-American games as well as the Olympics in 1996 and 2000.
Swimming internationally with the best swimmers in the world took a toll on Hinds. The tedious training and preparation was almost enough for Hinds to call it a career, until he actually arrived on the Olympic stage.
“Each Olympics, it was literally going in ‘this is it’ kind of mentality…and then I get there and I was like ‘Yeah, I could do this for four more years’ because it was that much fun,” said Hinds. “It was a sacrifice, but it was worth the sacrifice.”
After graduating in 2000, Hinds would serve as a developmental coach for the Long Island Aquatics club, where he taught children how to swim and built the program substantially during his time there.
“[I] developed the program from 30 swimmers that were in the program, to 30 actually showing up for practice,” Hinds said. “When I left that program there was probably about 100 kids.”
It was on Long Island where he worked and trained for the upcoming 2004 Olympic games in Athens. Unfortunately, Hinds didn’t qualify for the games, and shifted his focus to helping the next generation of swimmers.
Using what he learned from years of work as a coach and personal trainer, Hinds was eager to return to Springfield College and once again have an impact on the swimming program, but this time as a coach.
Jack Nelson, his head coach with the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team, serves as a big inspiration for his coaching technique. He emphasizes the importance of motivation and technique for success in major competitions.
As for his own position, Hinds is excited to get started and has already praised the energy of the program during his first couple of weeks.
“[I’m] trying to get athletes to push themselves past what they think they can achieve,” Hinds said.
Hinds knows that an experienced swimmer like himself can add a lot to the program.
“[I’m] trying to share my experience, my knowledge of the sport and try to see if we can get all of the swimmers here to reach their potential, and it’s very exciting.”
Photo: Springfield College Athletics