Zach Shattuck competes at the World Para Swimming World Championship on Dec. 3, 2017 in Mexico City.
Following a successful collegiate swimming career, Zach Shattuck has been coaching swimming for only a single season, but it has already made a significant impact on him.
“It’s definitely a different experience being on the other side of the pool deck, but I love working and training with our athletes,” Shattuck said of his work at Mary Washington, an NCAA Division III university in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “They are awesome kids who make me smile, laugh and are just great people to be around. Never had thought about coaching before, but now it’s something I could definitely see myself doing.”
But before Shattuck gets too deep into coaching, he has some other business to attend to. Namely, winning a world championship.
The 23-year-old, who swam at Frostburg State in Maryland, is competing this weekend in the World Para Swimming World Series stop in Singapore. It is his second event of the World Series, having participated when Indianapolis hosted April 4-6.
Shattuck is scheduled to compete in the 100-meter breaststroke, 100 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He won the S6 class — Shattuck has hypochondroplasia, or short-limbed dwarfism — in the 100 breaststroke and finished in the top four in the other three events in Indianapolis.
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“I think my strongest event is probably the 100 breaststroke or 200 IM,” Shattuck said. “Right now, they are two of my highest-ranking events, but I also feel like they are two events that I can still learn and improve and continue to drop time in.”
Shattuck, who won the bronze medal in the 4x100-meter medley at the 2017 world championships, said his training was more focused on Indianapolis where he set two American records.
“I think my mindset has been a lot better and I’ve been working harder and more efficiently,” Shattuck said. “I saw some good time drops in Indy, so the goal now is to learn from that and try to keep improving as much as possible. It was a little surprising, but I’m grateful and I know now that I can do a lot more.”
In 2015 at Frostburg State, Shattuck broke the U.S. Paralympic records in the 50, 200 and 500 freestyle during the Capital Athletic Conference championships. It was at Frostburg State where Shattuck met coach Justin Anderson, who paved the way for Shattuck to get his start in coaching.
“I have loved my job as an assistant coach at Mary Washington,” Shattuck said. “Back in the fall my old head coach at Frostburg State, Justin ... asked if I wanted to be an assistant and I agreed and it’s been awesome every step of the way.”
The World Series is only in its third year and gives Para athletes a chance to see where they stand against their peers from across the globe.
“The World Series provides an awesome challenge because you get to compete against some of the best athletes from around the world, and that helps push and motivate me both in competing and in training,” he said.
Plus, it also gives Shattuck the opportunity to travel to new places.
“I have not been to Singapore before,” he said. “This is actually my first time to Asia overall. Definitely hoping to explore some. We are staying in a beautiful hotel and (Monday) we checked out some of the famous gardens they have, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to check out a few more spots between training and competition.”
Shattuck is also hoping this won’t be his last trip to Asia in the next 16 months.
“Definitely have an eye on Tokyo,” he said of the upcoming Paralympic Games in 2020. “I think that’s the main goal for most of the swimmers. I think it would be awesome to have the opportunity to swim in a meet like that and, yeah, my lineup here will likely be similar to what I would want to race at there.”
Steve Drumwright is a journalist based in Murrieta, California. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.