The Runway to the Olympic Trials with Greg Meehan

Our conversation with Greg Meehan is part of a series of interviews conducted at the end of 2020 and early 2021, amid the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic and profound, generational shifts in cultural awareness and activism. Our aim was to speak to figures across the sporting world about leading in times of instability, division, and transition. 

This week’s episode was recorded in December of 2020, as Greg Meehan, the head coach of Stanford’s Women’s Swim Team and a first-time head coach of the US Women’s Olympic Swim Team, was preparing his athletes for the Olympic Trials in an exceptionally nonstandard year.  We talked to Greg about his “rookie year” as an assistant coach for the 2016 US Women’s Olympic Swim Team—when he coached Maya DiRado, Simone Manuel, and Lia Neal to four gold, four silver, and one bronze medal, collectively—the team culture he has built at Stanford, and the rigors of preparing athletes for the Olympics in 2020 and 2021, a time when everything, including the games themselves, has been turned upside down.

“The beauty of the Olympic Games is that the people who make those moments are the people the moment isn’t too big for.  They can just go with the flow.  They’re prepared and they’re okay with the outcome.”

– Greg Meehan

Episode Highlights:

– Remembering the 2016 Olympics in Rio

– Being a rookie on the Olympic stage, as a coach and an athlete

– Maya DiRado and Simone Manuels’s performances in 2016

– Creating a runway to the Olympic Trials

– The critical role of confidence to performance

– Communication and feedback in coaching

– Creating partnerships with athletes

– Coaching with compassion

– Coaching and leading through a pandemic

– Values in coaching and leadership

– The importance of being genuine

– Balancing tradition with innovation

– Creating non-negotiables within a program

– Communication style among contemporary athletes

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