When David Bresser was 9 years old, his passion for swimming was ignited when his mom got him involved in competitive swimming, which he did throughout his school years. After graduating from the United States Military Academy, he was selected as a graduate assistant coach for the swim team. That taste of instructing the sport has led to coaching the swim team at University of Saint Mary, serving as the president of the East Kansas Swim League and being named class 5A-1A Coach of the Year.
Coaching at the University of Saint Mary is Bresser’s full-time job which also includes being an adjunct professor at the university, but he also coaches the high school swim teams for Lansing and Basehor-Linwood.
Dedicated to the students he coaches, Bresser said he becomes attached to each class that he coaches and enjoys seeing them introduced to something new as well as seeing success and improvement due to their hard work.
“It seems like I can always get a group through their four years, but every year there is a new group of freshmen I get attached to. I really enjoy the high school level because of the instruction but I also enjoy the competition of the college sport,” he said.
Because BLHS does not have a pool, those students train and compete for most of the year with Lansing High School through a co-op agreement. For championship and end of season meets, the swimmers represent their own schools. The BLHS girls took third place at the United Kansas Conference this year.
Bresser always talks to the juniors and seniors on his team individually about their post-graduation plans. He finds out what they want to do and tries to get them thinking early about the options of not only attending college, but also the possibilities of joining the military or entering the workforce.
As president of the East Kansas Swim League, his role is to help guide the league and grow the sport in the area. The league is an eight-team recreational summer league in the area, but it lacked direction until a board and officers were elected.
Prior to coaching swimming locally, Bresser served 25 years as an Army aviator flying the UH-60 Blackhawk. He was stationed around the United States and served four overseas deployments in Bosnia, Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.
In honor of his military service, the flag that is displayed at the Lansing pool was from Bresser’s first tour in Afghanistan. He carried that flag and four others with him on every mission he flew in Afghanistan, safely tucked in his body armor. The other four flags are for his children. He hopes that when the swimmers see that flag, they realize that life takes dedication.
“Swimming helped me achieve so much in my life. I learned the value of hard work, commitment, responsibility and teamwork. It led to wonderful opportunities including a high school state championship in Kentucky, national level swim meets, appointment at West Point and travel,” said Bresser.
As a high school student, Bresser swam at national swim meets in several Midwest states. He swam at the World Military Games in Rome and also competed in the World Masters Championships at Stanford.
Bresser emphasizes academics and the importance of success in the classroom. He sees swimming reinforcing skills for a successful life including time management, dedication, responsibility and accountability and reinforces those things during swim practice. His swimmers have among the highest grade point averages at Basehor-Linwood High School. Bresser’s coaching philosophy includes scholarship, leadership and sportsmanship and ultimately he tries to teach his swimmers to be good and productive students when they graduate. Not everyone can be a straight A student, but all students can do well if they apply themselves.
“I try to teach the leadership skills through the use of our captains and upper-class students. A new swimmer, regardless of talent, needs to understand their role on the team. They must comprehend that they can’t do it all and must rely on teammates to be successful. This is really important for high school and college, which is why I like these students so much,” said Bresser. “I also try to emphasize the importance of mental health and confidence.”
Bresser has a signature fashion style while coaching. As a child, he enjoyed watching college basketball and admired the sharp-dressed coaches on the sidelines. Inspired, but knowing very little about basketball, he now dons brightly colored pants while coaching his swimmers from the sidelines. Bresser enjoys looking for bright new pants to wear at meets and those pants help his swimmers find him on the swim deck.
In mid-May, Bresser was voted as the Kansas swim coach of the year for 5-1A schools based on votes from his peers. Traditionally, the coach is selected from the overall winning team, but Bresser believes the coaches across the state appreciate his passion for the sport and recognized his efforts to grow the sport and for hosting outstanding meets that were filled with fun.
“One of the things I like about swimming is that everyone can achieve success because you are always competing against yourself to improve, go faster or go farther. I love seeing the kids improve as swimmers but most importantly I am proud of their achievements as good people. I find the sport fun and exciting but it is a lifetime skill to keep you healthy,” Bresser said.