SARASOTA — It’s always been in the back of his mind.
Gulf Gate resident Brent Arckey knew that someday he wanted to be a head swim coach. Having worked alongside some of the nation’s top coaches, Arckey decided that was ultimately where he wanted to end up.
Arckey believed that 2016 would be the year when he began looking into head coaching positions, assuming he would have to leave Sarasota to accomplish his long-term goal.
But when former Sarasota Sharks head coach Steve Brown announced he had accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Arizona last month, Arckey, who had been an assistant coach for the Sharks for the past four-and-a-half years, applied for the position.
On July 8, Arckey was named the Sharks new head coach. Arckey was chosen from 47 applicants.
“It’s always been my goal to be a head coach, and I’m really happy to have the opportunity to do it here,” Arckey says. “It was on my radar, but sometimes opportunities choose you. It happened to be the right time, and I had the opportunity to apply.
“I was surprised and elated,” Arckey says. “I was on overdrive, so it felt good to take a deep breath and go back to doing what we do here, which is work hard. It took off some of the pressure because I could go back and focus on the kids.”
Arckey grew up swimming out of Orlando competing for Winter Park High before spending two years swimming for the University of Alabama.
With his swimming career winding down, Arckey, who began coaching summer leagues when he was 15 years old, moved back home to Florida where he began coaching with the Gator Swim Club and serving as a volunteer assistant for the University of Florida.
During that time, Arckey found himself working with introductory swimmers to Olympians and quickly developed a passion for coaching.
“I always really liked the idea of swimming as a career,” Arckey says. “I had the opportunity to work with good people. I got the coaching bug and set myself up to be the best head coach long term.”
Arckey graduated from Florida with a degree in sports management.
Since joining the staff at the YMCA, Arckey has worked with close to 375 swimmers on a weekly basis.
As the new head coach, Arckey, who currently oversees 16 practices a week, plans to keep the same values in place that have made the Sharks so successful. However, while the Sharks have become arguably the best Y program in the country, Arckey is hoping to continue to grow the program and make the Sharks one of the best overall programs in the nation.
“Obviously this is a highly successful program, so I’m not looking to come in and overhaul,” Arckey says. “I just want to continue to grow the program and further the Y message, which really works well with swimming.”
In addition to coaching the Sharks, Arckey also plans to coach Riverview High again this fall.
“I love high school season because it’s a little bit different,” Arckey says.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].