Coaching keeps couple together

Sunday, January 6, 2008 | 12:15 a.m. CST; updated 5:07 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Linda, left, and John Hamilton cheer on a Rock Bridge swimmer together at a recent meet.

COLUMBIA — From across the pool it is easy to see the bond that Linda Hamilton shares with her swim coach husband John.

“They’re the Ying and the Yang,” said Peggy Llewellyn-Neff, a close friend and teacher at Booneville High School. “He grounds her, and she bumps him up.”

Linda, 50, and John, 56, are the swimming coaches of the Rock Bridge and Hickman girls swimming teams. Their marriage and relationship is so strong that Linda saw life as a flight attendant as no longer appealing to her.

“John was a teacher at the time, and I thought that was so tough. I was tired of flying, so I went back to school,” said Linda Hamilton who is now a physical education teacher at Jefferson Junior High School along with John Hamilton.

Before she quit the flight attendant job she had held for 10 years, Linda Hamilton met a couple who were passengers on one of her flights who introduced her to John Hamilton.

“Through conversations with them, they said I would get on so well with this guy (John) who was house sitting for them,” she said. The quirky introduction led to what is now a 22-year marriage.

“People who live together hardly want to work together,” Llewellyn-Neff said. But for John and Linda, this could not of been any more wrong.

“My mom used to say that I saw to much of Linda,” John Hamilton said, “but working together has made our relationship very strong. I’m not love crazy, but we are a darn good mix.”

The Bruins and Kewpies swimmers say their coaches are two different characters who compliment each other.

“He can be strict, but it’s only done to make us better,” swimmer Kristen Silvey said. “Linda is bubbly and entertaining and can be a helpful distraction from the pains of training.”

Swimmer Allison Boyle said “I think they work well together. They make a good team.”

Only rarely do the coaches’ personalities cause problems.

“Linda would be talking to get us going, while coach is trying to explain the set, and so he usually fighting for the attention,” Silvey said.

The couples regard each other highly, though, and John Hamilton acknowledges his coaching methods have benefited from his wife’s aid.

“Sometimes I can be too driven, and she has taught me to back off a lot,” he said. “Sometimes I can’t see the forest through the trees. I over coach.”

Linda Hamilton says she couldn’t see things working out any other way.

“I’m the little warm fuzzy, and he is the brains,” she said, “and if I didn’t coach with him, I wouldn’t see him, our lives would only zig and zag.”

A coaching week for the two consists of six days a week with Sundays their only day off.

“We are tired at the same time which helps,” Linda Hamilton said. “It’s not like ‘Honey lets go out’ or ‘Honey don’t move me.’ We never had children which was smart, because I don’t think we would have had the time. But I don’t regret it, it was never meant to be.”

Their regular work with the swimmers seems to keep them fulfilled.

“Our jobs our perfectly in sync. When I go home she goes home with me and we share our days off” John Hamilton said. “We have lots of things in common and plenty to talk about at the end of our day.”

— Petar Miljkovic contributed

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