Steamboat swim coach retires after 23 years
A legendary figure in the Steamboat Springs swimming community, Patti Worsley, is retiring after 23 years of coaching.
In 1999, Worsley joined the Steamboat Springs Swim Team, which was a summer-only team known as the Lightning swim team, as a part-time coach. Since then, Worsley has become the head coach and seen the team change its name and expand to a year-round schedule.
Worsley has been instrumental in the growth of her swimmers, and she takes great pride in the people they become.
“Helping kids set goals, believe in themselves and achieve their goals inside and out of the pool, that’s really important to me,” Worsley said.
Worsley believes her strong suit as a coach is helping her athletes with their technique in the swimming pool. She helped to instill these techniques into both of her sons, who have gone on to have extremely successful careers in the pool.
Worsley has coached state champions, All-Americans, Swimmers of the Year and even Olympians, but some of her favorite career memories come from the little things.
Seeing the joy on her students’ faces after they successfully do a flip turn or any other skill for the first time is something Worsley will look back at and remember most fondly.
“I just love coaching swimming, I feel like it’s my passion in life, and I can see things that need to be helped with each swimmer and how we can have them be a faster and a better swimmer,” Worsley said. “I feel like I have an eye for seeing it and I just love doing it.”
Worsley first found her love for swimming as a child growing up in Vancouver, Canada. Her father worked in the plastic industry and his company made swimming goggles.
Worsley swam through high school and grew a strong passion for the sport. She has since been able to share that passion with her students, a few of whom have returned to coach alongside her.
Brooks Birkinbine swam under Worsley’s tutelage for eight years and returned to the swim team as a coach the last two summers while on summer break from college.
Birkinbine, 21, learned about Worsley’s retirement and faced a wide variety of emotions.
“I was sad at first just because she has been a part of my life for so long and I see her as an extension of my family at this point,” Birkinbine said. “Then, the more I started thinking about it, the more I was just super proud of her for all that she has done for me and the other athletes on the team and just everything she has done swim-wise herself.”
Like all of Worsley’s students, Birkinbine looks forward to continuing a friendship with Worsley after her retirement and can’t wait to see where the next chapter of her life takes her.
She is most looking forward to traveling, spending time with friends, getting back on her Peloton and continuing to make the world a better place. On top of that, Worsley will pop into the Old Town Hot Springs a few times this fall to teach private lessons with some of her swimmers that are looking to work on specific techniques.
As Worsley’s tenure comes to a close, her final meet as a coach will be the Long Course 12 and Under State Meet hosted at the U.S. Air Force Academy from July 29-31.
This was the very first meet Worsley took her son to many years ago, and she is now poetically finishing her career in the very same place.
With the retirement comes a search for a new coach who can fill Worsley’s enormous shoes. No replacement has yet been named, but there are enough assistant coaches to cover the team through the fall.
“Steamboat is a great community to be working in. The coaches that we have on staff right now are excellent and would be able to work with a new coach coming in and it’s just a great community to develop swimmers, it really is,” Worsley said.
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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