It is hard to imagine the Woodlands Masters Swim Team without Greg Tharp as one of thecoaches. For fifteen years, he has been on deck. He comes to workout with his sets planned ahead of time, he is constructive in his comments, and he is motivating during the workout. At meets, he is the loudest one cheering for the swimmer in the water, and he provides constructive comments after the swim to help make the next time better. However, that could be said about most coaches.
What makes Greg different is his empathy. Outside of the pool, Greg is a clinical psychologist with a strong interest in sports psychology. He likes to assist swimmers in fully developing the mental aspects of their competitive or fitness swimming. Greg also exhibits a strong “pay it forward” mentality with a most generous heart. Last year one of our fellow coaches and longtime swimmer was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was in her forties and married with two young children. While she was going through treatments, Greg made himself available on a regular basis, helping her to deal with her many emotions. He helped her prepare emotionally for her passing. He served a pivotal role in supporting her family and was a help to many of us who were having great difficulty dealing with the loss of a wonderful coach and dear friend. It was no surprise when her husband asked Greg to speak at her memorial service. Greg later gave another tribute at a team-hosted meet that was renamed in her memory.
Most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, he reached out to a teammate whom he knew was going through a very difficult time physically, emotionally and financially. He stepped in to offer her emotional support and even assisted with work she needed at home. He then reached out to fellow team members to organize a food train for daily meals, groceries and more. Beyond that, he has kept the entire community and team uplifted with his COVID related remakes of classic rock and country songs. Seeing these videos is very encouraging during this time of stress. Every team member knows that in need, they can go to Greg Tharp. This is a true testament of giving – expecting nothing in return.
It is this compassion and care for his teammates that makes Greg one of Woodlands Masters’ most beloved and dedicated coaches. He mentors both swimmers new to the team or swimming, as well as those who have been in the sport their whole lives. He excels in technique improvement and knows every swimmer’s focus areas. His positive attitude encourages swimmers to finish sets and establish goals. His zest for interacting with his swimmers makes his workouts enjoyable and everyone feels a valuable member of the team. He has motivated many to compete for the first time or return to competition, and he is always up for a challenge or bet to get the most out of his swimmers. The funny thing about these challenges is that Greg sets very lofty goals for himself, so his swimmers are generally the victors, despite Greg’s humorous and amusing smack talk. Go Big or Go Home!
Greg’s relationships with his teammates have led to close bonds with generations of families. Local age group swimmers know him as “Coach Greg from Masters” The Woodlands Masters Swim Team would not be what it is today without Greg Tharp.