By Megan Pipech
Robert Gonzalez made his splash in the Oxford community in 2015 when he became the new head coach of the Oxford High School Swim Team and the Oxford branch of Shockwave (SWAT).
The Oxford Chapter of Shockwave swim team (SWAT) is managed by a charitable organization called North Mississippi Swim. According to North Mississippi Swim, they seek to stimulate public interest in swimming in North Mississippi, to foster and promote the physical welfare, character development and education of young swimmers. Currently, there are more than 70 families who are a part of the Shockwave swim team program.
Gonzalez was born in Thibodaux, Louisiana and grew up in Columbus, Mississippi where his swimming career began at the age of 4.
“My dad was a swim coach and I was involved in the sport instantly as a young swimmer and all the way through school,” he said.
Gonzalez grew up competing for several different swim teams such as Falcon Aquatic Swim Team and Mississippi Aquatic Dogfish. Then, in 2000, he became a swimmer for a branch of the Shockwave Aquatics program and has been a part of the program to this day.
With Gonzalez’s dedication and determination to the sport, it is no surprise the plethora of accolades he has to show. While a swimmer, Gonzalez was awarded the Mississippi MVP Swimmer Award eight times and was a Junior National Qualifier in the 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, and 200 individual medley.
After high school, Gonzalez was given the opportunity to continue working with the Shockwave swim team. Instead of being the one in the pool, this time he was given the opportunity to give back to his team as a coach.
“This opportunity allowed me to grow my skills and earn income to pay for my education. I have stuck with the opportunity ever since,” Gonzalez said.
While working with the Shockwave swim team, Gonzalez continued to pursue an education at Mississippi State University. In December 2014, he graduated with an education specialist degree in education administration. Gonzalez moved to Oxford in 2015 and has had his hands full ever since at Oxford Intermediate School teaching 6th-grade science. When he is not teaching science classes, Gonzalez is usually at the pool working with his devoted swimmers on their stroke techniques and motivating them to push their swimming boundaries.
“I enjoy watching the kids grow proud of their successes. Swimming can be a hard sport so to find those little victories. When they find them, you have to be proud of them and grow them into future goals,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez truly is a go-getter. While Shockwave swim team takes a break during the fall swim season, Gonzalez is coaching the Oxford High School Chargers swim team.
“He works really hard and I can tell he really cares about everyone. We’ve gotten a lot better with him here. He truly is doing a great job,” says student swimmer Charles Byars.
The Oxford High School girls swim team moved on to 11-0 overall this season and the boys swim team moved on to 10-1. The Chargers swim team also finished in the top three in Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) for a second consecutive year, breaking their 100-point scoring mark for the first time since 2010.
With all the success he has brought to the Oxford community, Gonzalez said he is always looking for more ways to improve his teams.
“Wherever I go, my goal is to grow, develop and cultivate the talent that is available. I believe Oxford has as high a ceiling as nearly anywhere else in the state, even given our smaller population,” Gonzalez said.
As for SWAT, he wants to see it maintain its elite status as a leading Mississippi swimming program.
“We have the potential to develop nationally competitive swimmers and NCAA student-athletes if we create the system needed for success,” he said. “Our goal is to bring the right people into the program to lead and teach these young people to become future leaders.”