Page 28 - CHSCA Issue 3 2019-2020
P. 28

Butler Finds His Path to Success at Branford
 By Paul Rosano
Branford girls swim coach Scott Butler has one memory he will never forget.
It was in 2007, the first day of the first year of coaching the girls team at Branford High School after all the swimmers he was ad- dressing had swum for coaching legend John O’Connor for all of their careers.
“I didn’t know very many of them, which made it kind of awk- ward,” said Butler, 35 at the time. “They all kind of looked at me like ‘What are you talking about?’
“If you’ve ever been into the pool in Branford, there are like eight, nine championship ban- ners, pretty much all years in a row that John O’Connor won, and I was coming in after like the fourth straight state champion- ship. Here I was I was going to change things up and they looked at me like ‘What are you doing?’ ”
Those seniors had won state titles freshman, sophomore and junior years and he wanted to come in and change things.
“But that set the standard for me that although I might have had my ideas and my principles that I wanted to instill, it was go- ing take time,” Butler said. “It al- lowed me to appreciate that just because it’s my idea doesn’t mean it’s the right idea.
“To be flexible and to be open to the way that it was is kind of OK, but let’s see what we can do to change it up, too, to see if we
can make things better.”
He was interested in tak-
ing a more global stance on the program from the feeder levels through the schools to be able to sustain success over time.
Butler has done just that in his 14 years as girls head coach.
His team was Class M state runner-up in both the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, and then broke through to win the M championship in 2012-2013. His teams have had 10 straight top five finishes in Class M states from 2007-2016 and been at least top eight for his entire career.
Butler was named the CHSCA Girls Swim Coach of the Year in 2015 and also the CIAC Coach of the Year the same season. He also coached boys at Branford for four years and his total career dual- meet record is 97-47-1.
Butler swam for O’Connor starting at six years old at Pine
Orchard Country Club and con- tinued through high school. It was O’Connor who pointed him in the direction of a coaching and instructor’s job at Silver Sands Beach Club while Butler was a ju- nior at Bryant College.
“That was basically what start- ed me on this path to coach more and more and more,” Butler said.
By 1996, he became assistant coach of the Branford Stingrays in USA Swimming, and then in 2001 an assistant to Rich Thompson in the boys program at Branford.
When O’Connor told him in 2006 he was thinking of retiring, he asked Butler to take over.
“He asked me if I was interest- ed in coming and taking over his huge shoes to fill, which I happily did. That’s pretty much what sky- rocketed it all for me,” Butler said.
Butler says training in swim- ming is much different than many other sports and presents its own challenges.
“Swimming is a rough sport because you have to be trained and in shape for a sustained pe- riod of time before you can see the results you want to see,” he said. “It’s a sport where you train for that one swim (in states) one time a year and hopefully you can replicate it maybe three times in a one week window. But out- side that window you have to be realistically accepting that it’s not going to happen under different circumstances.”
But the payoff is great.
“The look on the swimmers
  PAGE 28 • CONNECTICUT COACH • ISSUE 3 • 2019-2020

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