Veteran swim coach makes waves with new school

Dirk Ebel photo by Chris Arrant
Dirk Ebel photo by Chris Arrant

Preston Hollow resident Dirk Ebel noticed that the crystal-clear pool at T Bar M Racquet Club wasn’t being used — so he decided to dive right in. Ebel left his 10-year-stint as Cooper Fitness Center’s aquatics director in January to start his own program. He approached T Bar M’s administration and said, “I want to start my own swim school, and I want to take your pool.” He was a bit hesitant to ask despite his hefty credentials in the swim world. Ebel has served as St. Mark’s varsity swim coach for four seasons, coached with Olympians Bobby Patten and Jim Montgomery at their swim club, Dallas Aquatic Masters, since 2005, and taught in some form for the past 15 years. He even taught his then-girlfriend (now wife) Kaitlin to swim after she admitted she didn’t know how. Ebel says he can teach anyone from 9 months to 98 years old to swim. Often, he can be found in Preston Hollow backyards, teaching children how to swim. He says that although he recommends children be at least 3, he recently worked with a 2-year-old who learned how to swim by the end of the week. Ebel says he’s against the fairly new “waterproofing” technique where you essentially throw your fully clothed child in the pool and teach him to roll over and float so he won’t drown. “I’m anti-that whole system. My goal is to keep them face-down and learn to swim to the wall and back,” he says. It’s a skill they’ll always remember, he says. The former W.T. White prom king (yes, he’s pretty popular) is now focused on his private lessons, group lessons and swim team at T Bar M. You can join, or sign your children up, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The swim squad starts June 3, and 7- to 17-year-olds will compete against other clubs such as the Knights of Columbus and Dallas Country Club. Ebel says the club hasn’t had a team in the past two years; as long as your kid can swim a lap, he or she is welcome. “In swimming, even though you have teams, you’re really competing against yourself,” Ebel says.

TO SIGN UP TO SWIM call Ebel at 972.385.3641 or email

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