SPRINGFIELD, NJ - As the coach of the Springfield Swim Team for two decades, Karen Bocian has become a legend in the town of Springfield. Bocian has been a positive and dynamic leader of the team and her influence on the lives of young swimmers and their families goes well beyond the lanes of the swimming pool.
Bocian has been a swimmer for almost her entire life. She began her career as an eight year old on the Springfield Swim Team and continued on this summer team until she graduated from high school. At the same time, Bocian swam year round for Berkeley Aquatics until she transferred to the Summit Seals YMCA team during her sophomore year.
During this career, she attended national level swim meets in Florida, was the Senior Captain at the YMCA and for Governor Livingston High School. She was a member of the TCNJ swim team for all four years in college and was the captain during her senior year. She has incorporated all of this swimming knowledge and experience into her role as the coach of the Springfield Swim Team. The team practices five days a week throughout the month of July, with eight dual meets during the season and two championship meets. Over 100 swimmers participate on the team each year under the loving guidance and direction of "Coach Karen."
Patricia Boyle, a longtime Springfield Swim Team parent, recently reflected on Bocian’s role with the team and her impact on Boyle's own children. She feels that Bocian is such a special coach, “because of her ability to reach any swimmer where they are in their development and she helps them improve. She is also very encouraging and is able to make learning fun by focusing on the individual in and out of the water.” Boyle also credits Bocian for suggesting that her children swim all year round in the more competitive environment of club swimming.
Boyle is most grateful for all the memories she has had witnessing the growth of her kids, and all the other swimmers, through the years. She says that, “as parents we have enjoyed seeing the younger swimmers look up the older swimmers and, in time, seeing the older swimmers have so many opportunities to lead, encourage, and support the younger team members.” All of the Boyles are, “most grateful for Karen’s influence through the years in the lives of each of our children.”
Coach Karen also shared her thoughts about the team and what it has meant to her over the past twenty years. She feels that the best part about coaching, “is the amazing group of swimmers and parents who are a part of the team every year.” She feels that they are “the kindest, most generous, and spirited group she has ever been a part of.” She keeps coming back as a coach because the Swim Team is her summer family and as she is able to, “work in a place that she has grown up in, doing a job I love, with amazing coaches and swimmers, and being outside in the sunshine.”
Bocian’s consistent goal for the swimmers is that all of the kids have fun and make tons of memories. She wants all of them to grow up and be able to look back on the summer and remember all the fun they had on the team. Coach Karen goes above and beyond just running swim practices and making lineups for the meets. She runs an array of additional activities throughout the month of July for the swimmer and their families. She can remember many special moments from her time as a coach, ranging from team car wash mornings and baseball games, to roller skating events, movie night, and bowling parties. She also enjoys baking for the home swim meet bake sales, which are fundraisers for the team.
Bocian also feels that the team has really made a difference through various swimathons and food drives organized over the years. But, hands-down, her favorite event each summer is swim team Beach Day at Seven Presidents!
On July 27, 2018, the team celebrated the end of the season with the annual awards night and dinner. The team presented Bocian with several gifts to acknowledge and celebrate her 20 years as coach. As a result, her new hands-down favorite moment as the town’s swim team leader was, “watching the slide show that everyone put together for her to celebrate her 20th season coaching” as it is a memory she will never forget. Karen hopes to be able to continue with the team for many years to come so that everyone can have lots of fun while showing their Springfield Swim Team spirit.
Throughout the past twenty years, Coach Karen Bocian has left an immeasurable mark on the town of Springfield through her commitment to the swim team. She has spread her infectious joy, been a caring and consistent friend, a valuable instructor, and a person who has the ability to change lives for the better. Her incredible values have made her an icon among the North Jersey Summer Swim League community as everywhere the team travels, parents and coaches are astounded by her infectious team spirit as they witness the fun and the smiles on the faces of all her swimmers. Karen’s influence goes beyond her abilities in the pool. She knows how to create memories, how to teach kids to give back to the community, and most importantly, how to enjoy time with friends and how to care for teammates. Karen Bocian has made an incredibly positive impact on the people in her life over the past twenty years.