Call it an extended, indefinite working vacation for Jim Puleo, who has served as the Carson Tigershark Swim Club's head coach over the past four years.
What he thought was going to be a period in which he would take some time off has turned into a chance to coach the Sri Lanka national swim team. Puleo left this week for his new duties as the Sri Lanka national swim team head coach/coordinator. "I had originally decided I just wanted to take some time off," Puleo said.
Near the first of this year, Puleo informed the Tigershark Swim Club he would not re-sign to coach the team when his contract ran out on May 31. He offered to coach the team through the summer until the club was able to hire a new coach.
The Tigersharks have hired Jack Caucino, who is coming from New Jersey and will take over the club in September.
"I feel very fortunate in the fact that Jack is the guy I like the best," said Puleo about Caucino being his first choice to take over for him after the interviewing process.
Puleo said a major reason why Caucino was attracted to the club was the Carson Aquatic Facilty. "He's coming for a noble reason," Puleo said.
Puleo described the facility as among the best in the nation for the size of this community. "Carson City has to be tremendously proud of this pool," he said.
He also said he enjoyed his time in Carson City. "I loved it here," Puleo said. "I met some great friends."
Meeting people is something that Puleo has done throughout his career in which he has accumulated a great deal of international coaching experience. Among the places that Puleo has traveled has been the Carribean, the Far East and the Middle East. Puleo also coached in the 2000 Sydney, Australia Olympics. "Life is short," Puleo said. "I've done a lot of traveling and met a lot of people."
Puleo found out about the chance in Sri Lanka through the American Coaches Swim Association at about the same time he told the Tigersharks he wasn't coming back. But Sri Lanka's search for a coach was delayed by the Tsunami that hit the region near the first of the year. Sri Lanka began its search again in the spring and decided on Puleo.
In Sri Lanka, Puleo faces a huge challenge. Sri Lanka is a poor nation which is still reeling from the Tsnunami. So success in Sri Lanka will be relative.
"I think our goals will be to successfully compete and represent Sri Lanka," said Puleo about such meets as the Southeast Asian Games. Another obvious goal is for Sri Lanka's swimmers to continue to improve heading into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
With the Tigersharks, Puleo did have his share of success as he continued the high standards that the club has set. Among the highlights under Puleo's direction was having a two-time national champion in Lauren Costella.
Puleo has also always made his philosophy clear. He said when he's asked the question, "If you have a favorite, I'll say yes."
But Puleo's favorites are based solely on work ethic. "I do have favorites," he said. "It has absolutely nothing to do with talent or speed. I think that any coach that says they don't have a favorite is a liar."