Dan Diaz retires from coaching Port Clinton swim program

Mar 19, 2024 | Featured, Sports | 1 comment

Dan Diaz is leaving a strong legacy of success as he retires from coaching swim at Port Clinton High School. Among his many accomplishments is helping two swimmers develop into state champions. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

After over two decades of success, Port Clinton swim coach, Dan Diaz, is retiring from coaching. Although he has been leading the school’s swim program for 24 years, he is part of a much bigger legacy that brought distinction to the school. Diaz was one of only two people to head the swim program in over 50 years.

When Diaz was hired as the swim coach in 2000, he took over for Ken Gipe, who had coached the team for 30 years. The continuity the two men brought to the school district created a foundation where swimmers could recognize and meet their potential.

“For the better part of 54 years, Port Clinton High School has had only two swim coaches. That has a lot to do with our success,” Diaz said. “Ken was a huge mentor for me. It was an honor to take what he built and bring it to the next level.”

Diaz’s success as a coach is extraordinary.

He coached seven SBC championship teams and two district championship teams. He won the Coach of the Year award three times and sent at least one swimmer, and often more, to the state meet each of the last 22 seasons. Diaz helped Mackenzie Stewart and Kami Periat develop into state champions. Stewart won the 200 individual medley title in 2010, and Periat won the 100 backstroke as a junior in 2023.

Not only did the Gipe-Diaz legacy bring stability to the swim program, but Diaz created further continuity through his commitment to swimmers districtwide. Throughout the years, he taught swim to young children, coached the middle school, and was willing to invest the hours it took to help his high school swimmers succeed, including coaching at practices before and after school. Many of the young children he taught stuck with the program and eventually excelled as high school athletes.

Port Clinton High School swim coach, Dan Diaz, is retiring from coaching this year. He will continue as the high school PE and health teacher. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“I taught an eight-and-under class. I remember telling my assistant that I couldn’t wait until those girls got to high school because I knew they’d be special,” Diaz said.

Diaz grew up in Miami, where he was an All American in water polo. He joined the swim team as a high school sophomore, and his success earned him a spot on the University of Mount Union swim team. After graduating, he and his wife moved back to Florida, but after two years, his wife, a Put-in-Bay native, missed home.

While visiting his wife’s family over spring break in 2000, Diaz learned of an opening for a health and physical education teacher and swim coach at Port Clinton High School. He interviewed for the job on a Monday and was offered the job that Friday. When he returned home from vacation, he learned Rocky River, a Cleveland suburb, was also looking for a swim coach.

“My past and future could have been very different if I had not fell into the Port Clinton job,” he said.

He is glad he did, and so are the dozens of swimmers he has coached in the last 24 years, but now, he is ready to step down. He will continue to teach and will remain active with the swim program, but he will no longer coach. He is not tired of coaching. He simply wants more time to spend with his family.

“I became a grandparent, and it changes your perspective. I want to be there for my kids and grandkids,” he said. “I’m not retiring because I hate it. I’m retiring because it’s time for me to start the next phase of my life.”

Diaz recently stood on the edge of the pool and watched his current swimmers teach a group of children. Among the young kids were the daughters of some of his former swimmers. The program he put years of his life into had come full circle.

“I sat back and looked at that and thought, ‘We’re good,’” he said. “I’m at peace with my decision.”

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    Thanks for all you’ve done Coach Diaz. Enjoy your retirement.

    Reply

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