Coach Pamela Luncz: Giving Back to the Team


Pamela Luncz

Junior Varsity girls’ swim coach Pamela Luncz (far right) stands with her team during May 2022’s CIF swim championships.

Wren Bulawin, Staff Writer

With a splash, the swimmers dive into the pool and rocket through the water, each lifted arm and kick gracefully propelling them yard after yard. As the girls of the Junior Varsity swim team splash, kick, and turn for each lap, swim coach and Ayala teacher Pamela Luncz stands overhead, cheering them on. The youth and vigor of these young, budding swimmers sends her back to her own high school days—after all, years before, she had been in the same position, gliding through the same exact pool under the same winter sky. 

A little over two decades ago, when she first entered Ayala, Coach Luncz never expected to spend her teenage years with the swim team. But with a little encouragement from her friends, she decided competitive swimming would be a great sport to try out in her free time.

“I had a friend who was a competitive swimmer, and she told me the team didn’t cut,” Coach Luncz said. “So I decided to try it out.”

During her freshman and sophomore years, she played in JV, quickly finding her talent and passion for the sport. As her skills continued to improve, she joined the varsity team in her third season and became swim captain for her final season in 2008.

“[My high school experience] was a lot of fun. I made a lot of friends from different age groups and areas,” said Coach Luncz. “[There were] two things [I enjoyed most]: the feeling of accomplishment, and the friendships.”

However, upon graduating, Coach Luncz never really had plans to coach the swim team, despite her fondness for the sport. It just so happened that, on one of her visits back to Ayala in 2009, she was asked to volunteer for the position and ended up enjoying it.

“I was here once after I graduated, and someone asked if I could help out,” said Coach Luncz. “So when I came back to coach, it was kind of like giving back to the team.”

Coach Luncz hopes to rekindle that same found-family atmosphere she had experienced two decades ago within the next generation of swimmers by providing each member with a welcoming, enjoyable competitive experience. Her main focus is to build a positive environment within the JV girls’ swim team.

“I want everyone to feel like a team, to have fun,” said Coach Luncz. “I want everyone to feel comfortable [coming to swim] and to learn the value of hard work at the same time.” 

Furthermore, she aims to build an environment where nobody feels left behind, regardless of skill level or experience. Although her main focus is on team dynamics, she makes it a point never to forget the individual.

“She pushes us hard, but she’s nice about it,” said sophomore and JV swim member Ava Carr. “When she would help coach us, she would work on us individually… and if you ask her a question, she’d answer it and be really nice while doing so.”

Of course, there are still times where disputes and fall-outs between team members occur; after all, drama is inevitable throughout high school. While these moments remain some of the greatest challenges to Coach Luncz’s goal of creating the ideal team environment, she still aims to resolve these differences as best as possible in order to maintain the team’s close bonds.

“Swimmers not getting along is the biggest [challenge as a coach],” Coach Luncz said. “With girls it’s a bit different [when dealing with drama], but I talk to each party, see how we can fix it.”

Despite the challenges that come with coaching Junior Varsity swim, seeing her athletes give their all during swim meets and rely on each other down to the wire will always be her favorite part of coaching. She beams with joy seeing her swimmers succeed not only as individuals, but as a team—a family.

 “[One of my most memorable moments] as a coach… [was] winning the Mount SAC Invitational in 2014. We won the whole thing,” said Coach Luncz. “When [the team] who wins the meet comes down to the last relay, and our team wins, that’s really [memorable].”

While mentoring Ayala’s athletes may have not been Coach Luncz’s original plan, the tides of life had different ideas. But she would never trade coaching for the world, not if it meant being unable to help foster the seeds of new, budding swimmers as they struggle, grow, and succeed. After all, just as Ayala’s swim team had planted into her those joyful experiences long ago, she hopes that she can give back by doing the same.