BRENTWOOD -- Befittingly, the list of achievements and accolades seems as long as an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Craig Carson has been in and around pools for decades, dedicating a majority of his life to swim lessons and coaching.
As a USA swimming coach, he has guided athletes to national rankings; helped teach the life skill of swimming to more than 35,000 students (along with his wife); coached four different high school programs leading teams to championships and a CIF sectional title; and grown a small program into a real contender.
After decades of swimming, Carson became the head coach of the Brentwood SeaWolves three years ago. He started with several dozen swimmers and now has 125 year-round members. In that time, he's had athletes qualify for numerous championships.
A career teacher, Carson has coached at Antioch, Deer Valley and Heritage high schools. Although he recently retired from teaching after 35 years in the classroom, he's still hanging poolside encouraging and guiding athletes to do their best at that Brentwood campus.
A Heritage coach since 2008, this past season the boys won their fifth and the girls their fourth straight league championships.
"Out of the 22 seniors who graduated, 18 are going on to swim in college -- and that is what it is all about."
In 1985, the Brentwood resident founded Carson Swim School with wife Paulette. He calls it "learning to swim through competitive swimming school" for children and adults.
"Competitive swimming offers youngsters great exercise and structure in their life," he said. "They learn about discipline, and that the more they put into something the more they get out of it. Many of these athletes move on to swim in college, often times with a college scholarship."
While he obviously loves the sport, he does it all "for the relationships."
"Swimming has given me the opportunity to meet and connect with a lot of people all over the country. Many have become very close friends. The swimming community is very close-knit and almost every connection has been a very positive one," he said.
"The athletes I have worked with over the years have become doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, scientists and very successful people," and even one who is "the leading theoretical nuclear physicist in the world."
It is those successes and connections that motivate Carson, who has taught through six decades.
"One of my better swimmers today is a third-generation swimmer."
Carson has been busy out of the water, too, serving the Pacific Swimming Coaches Association, which selected him as a coach of the year.
All of his SeaWolves swimmers are from East County. One of his swimmers, Allie Klinger, recently returned from Israel's Maccabiah Games, where she represented the United States. She swam in two finals and was on the Gold Medal 400-meter free relay.
"With the SeaWolves, my most advanced group trains 15 to 18 hours per week, not including weekend competitions. I spend more quality time with them than most anyone. With many of them, it has become a lifelong relationship."
Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net.