Rocky Snow, a coach for the Clearfield High School swim team, is committed to staying fit.
He recently competed in the Utah Summer Games in Cedar City for the 18th consecutive year. Prior to this year’s summer games, he had won 165 medals in the Utah Summer games. This year he amassed another 14 medals for swimming.
“I first participated in the Utah Summer Games in 1991 as a cyclist at the age of 35. I won the overall amateur category for the four-day stage race and was named the Best Young Rider, an honor bestowed on a first-year competitive cyclist,” Snow said.
“I began competing in the Utah Summer Games in 1997 as a swimmer at the age of 40. I earned nine medals that first year,” Snow said.
He began swimming mainly because he was interested in becoming a triathlete, said Snow.
Snow enjoys competing every year at the summer games.
“To me, competition adds value to developing a sporting skill. The Utah Summer Games are modeled after the Olympics and offer mere mortals like myself the opportunity to compete with other athletes in swimming. The range of skills varies greatly in competitors. For some, they are re-living their age group, high school and college successes. For others, their participation is a tribute to their own zeal for fitness, fun and camaraderie, while developing or maintaining a skill in swimming,” said Snow.
He also enjoys earning medals. “I wanted to compete in the Utah Summer Games to legitimize my dedication, determination and swimming skills beyond being a lap swimmer; and, hopefully, earn a medal,” said Snow.
Snow has many good memories of competing in the Utah Summer Games but one of his best memories took place on the day of the 100-meter freestyle when he was 45.
“I had been talking to a man who reportedly swam in the FINA World Championships in Paris, France, the previous summer when he was 60. He placed first, which came as a pleasant surprise to him,” said Snow.
“As the story goes, we were behind the starting platforms during the heats prior to the one my new friend and I were about to swim. He inquired, ‘What time are you going to get?’ I said that I had a seeded time of 1:02.7, which was my personal best. He replied, ‘We are all going under a minute here.’
“I suddenly felt more scared than ever. The ambient temperature was 45 degrees and there was a fog hanging over the outdoor pool water. All the more reason to cast doubt on my ability to swim as fast as anyone else in the heat.
“I was in lane eight, the slowest seeded competitor. My new friend was next to me in lane seven. The gun went off and I lunged forward off the block. We made turn one and turn two together. At turn three, I came up a bit short. I remember saying to myself, ‘You have got to get yourself back into the race.’
“With that, I just put my head down and made my arms go as fast as possible. At the finish, while gasping for much-needed breath, my new friend in lane seven looked at the timing clock and exclaimed, ‘See, I told you we were all going under a minute.’ The time for lane eight read: 55.63. My exhaustion was replaced with elation. My new friend’s name is Dr. Larry Cohen, a retired orthopedic surgeon, who lives in Park City,” said Snow.
Snow has seen Cohen every year since then at the Utah Summer Games.
Snow has also made many other friends at the Summer Games who he looks forward to seeing every year.
His favorite events to swim are the breaststroke events.
“I really enjoy the breaststroke events. The 100-meter breast is probably my favorite. I think it is one of the toughest to swim fast. The 200-meter individual medley is another event I really enjoy,” Snow said.
Snow takes what he has learned from his competition and training and helps Clearfield High School swimmers by coaching them.
Snow has been a coach for Clearfield High School for three years. He also spent two years coaching the Clearfield City Aquatic Team (CCAT), a club swim team.
“I’m self-coached so I apply what I’ve learned to myself as well as my student athletes,” Snow said. “I’ve had to research the current swimming science articles and become educated on training swimmers at different levels of ability, age, development and gender. What I like most about coaching is building a trustworthy relationship with the athletes.
“I’ve also learned valuable lessons about behavior, expectations and goal-setting for the adolescent athlete. My biggest challenge is with correcting and not rewarding bad behavior, which negatively impacts a group. This is a skill which I am in need of working on to be an effective leader,” said Snow.
Coaching students is rewarding because he loves to help students.
“Coaching is my dream job. I am retired, and now doing my dream job,” Snow said. “It really makes me feel good when a kid or their parent tells me I do a really good job when it comes to coaching. I’ve gotten this from many kids and parents. It makes me stand a little bit straighter with a sense of pride in my job.”
Students Snow has coached have learned a lot from him and appreciate him as their coach.
“As a coach, Rocky has helped me perfect my stroke tremendously. He has taught me a lot regarding swimming and life in general as well as provided me with unique opportunities to progress as an individual,” said Kaidon Spencer, a swimmer for Clearfield High School and Clearfield City Aquatic Team.
“Rocky is dedicated to his coaching. He will go above and beyond to see his athletes succeed. I have worked with him for two years and he has never given up on me. He has spent extra time with me and others on the Clearfield High School Swim Team just to help us improve our swim technique. Coach Snow is very driven with his personal swim practices. He swims every day to stay in shape. Rocky is very supportive and caring of his athletes and I appreciate that. He would not expect anything but the best from anyone and that really helped me reach my personal swim goals. Coach Snow taught me determination, perseverance, and a love of swimming,” said Kaylee Gilger, Clearfield High School swimmer.
“Coach Rocky Snow pushes me a lot. He keeps me going. He gives me motivation but he also knows my breaking point. He will let me stop if my shoulder hurts. I like that he looks into my personal life and looks out for my best interest,” said Aubrie Robbins, swimmer for Clearfield High School and CCAT who had a shoulder injury recently.
“I am an exchange student and I wanted to do sports during my year at Clearfield High. I decided to do swimming. Rocky supported me from day one. He taught me how to swim freestyle, backstroke and butterfly and also how to improve my breaststroke. Rocky always helped me out in every situation and he made every person on the swim team feel important. I admire about him his passion about swimming and that he loves every single swimmer on his teams. He even helped me out after the swim season. Rocky always explained things in a way that I could understand. I think he's a great coach,” said Hannah Kaden, a swimmer for Clearfield High School.
Siblings Josh, Matt and Stephanie Williams all swim for Clearfield City Aquatic Team and appreciated Coach Rocky Snow when he coached them.
“Coach Rocky always helps me with my technique. He’s happy and joyful, always in a good mood,” said Matt Williams.
Stephanie also appreciates Coach Snow. “He’s kind, he doesn’t get mad very often, he’s good at teaching us technique, he’s fun to be around and he’s good at getting people to work hard. He’s a really fun coach,” said Stephanie Williams
“Rocky is a good coach. He helps me with my technique. He gives me motivation to want to work hard in practice,” said Josh Williams.
“A couple of parents recognized the fact that their child was fearful of the starting block. I understood the anxiety and reassuringly helped the swimmers. Together, we conquered the need for them to get over their worst fear and make a good start off the platform,” said Snow.
Snow has had a zeal for fitness for most of his life, even though he didn’t start swimming until age 40.
“In high school I was cut from football, basketball, baseball, and, yes, track and field. I made the cross country team as a junior and senior. I also wrestled in high school and college. I didn’t make the college cross county or track team. I ran the 800-meter and 1,500-meter in track for the U.S. Army in Europe and won gold medals in both of these individual events at the 7th Army Championships,” said Snow.
“I was a competitive cyclist here in Utah for many years until swimming took over my life. Beginning at the bottom at first, I worked my way up to the top. It took a long time, as it usually does. One day, I hope to progress to triathlons. I have it in my heart to finish an Ironman,” Snow said.
Snow knows the importance of eating healthy and fueling his body correctly for training.
“I believe that health, nutrition, diet and exercise have a synergism. Genuinely, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” Snow said. “I eat to train and not train to eat. To me, it’s very important to know what I am putting in my body for fuel and where it has come from.”
He believes that his meal plan is good for him, but might be too intense for some.
“For someone else, my meal plan would be too routine. Yet, for me, it has worked out well. I have a sense that four to five small meals is better than three or fewer ones. I eat exactly the same breakfast seven days a week: oatmeal, which has been doctored up with cranberries, walnuts and spices like cocoa and cinnamon. Once in a while, I will make waffles. I will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich three hours after breakfast. I don’t sit down and eat lunch. Instead, I train at the pool for a couple of hours,” Snow said.
“Right after my workout, I consume a combination sport drink-protein shake and eat a fruit and nut granola bar. For dinner on Monday and Tuesday it is always pasta. Wednesday is vegetable stir fry. Thursday and Friday are ground buffalo burgers and burritos,” Snow said.
“My caloric splurge comes in the form of pizza on Saturday or Sunday. I also prepare tuna fish sandwiches, eggs, and waffles on the weekend. Because the vitamin, mineral and nutrient content of my food isn’t complete or guaranteed, I take supplements to assure that I am getting the amounts needed for optimum sports nutrition,” Snow said.
He is also very dedicated in his training regime.Snow has a rigorous training regime that he does all year, every day of every week.
“I swim for a couple of hours six to seven days per week. Monday and Wednesday I focus on middle distance backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle strokes,” Snow said. “Tuesday and Thursday I concentrate on speed and maintaining anaerobic threshold for one hour. Friday I practice excellent technical skills, mostly butterfly and breaststroke. Slow, meticulous, repetitive short distances.
“Saturday, I hike the Taylor Canyon trail in Ogden. I do this year-around and especially like to go there during and after a blizzard. I turn around at Malan’s Heights (Peak) 2.4 miles up the trail at 7,000 feet elevation. Then, I run down,” Snow said. “Sunday, I work on all the strokes again: swimming hard down and easy back.”
Snow is an all-around good athlete, coach and nutritionist. He is a great example of dedication to fitness to the students that he coaches. He teaches by example.