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Ron Turner with Olympic bronze medalist Shi Jinglin

WOODSTOCK -- Ron Turner, a Real Estate Sales Consultant at Red Barn Real Estate, took an interesting journey to Cherokee County.

He was a swimmer growing up before becoming a swim coach, but coaching was something that he never really thought about doing until a coach he was working for said he could get him a job in the field.

“You can’t live as a swimming coach,” Turner said. “Who lives as a swimming coach?”

The more Turner thought about it, though, the more he began to like the idea of coaching. He came to Atlanta and interviewed with a swim club in the area.

“I came with my coach to Atlanta, and I loved it,” Turner said. “That was the first time I ever really spent time in Atlanta, and I loved the city and the opportunity.”

The opportunity soon grew to a love of coaching and kick started his career in the field.

Throughout his time coaching, Turner has coached at schools such as Indiana and Tennessee. It was at Indiana that Turner was told to travel to Europe and recruit more swimmers, because they had already had some international swimmers at the school. He then went to Sweden and later Indonesia to recruit and coach.

He enjoyed traveling and coaching around the world, so in 2010, when he was contacted by the Chinese to see if he would be interested in working at one of their international training centers, he took the job. He lived in China to coach for a year, before moving back to the United States.

In 2015, he was once again contacted by China’s training center. He took the job, but this time he was coaching on the Olympic level.

One of the women he coached in China, Shi Jinglin, won the bronze medal in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

This was a moment that filled him with happiness, though it was more for the athlete he helped coach.

“It wasn’t about the Olympic medal for me,” Turner said.” I was more happy for her because in China, winning an Olympic medal opens up doors culturally and socially.”

Turner said her winning that medal means she will be remembered forever for achieving something at that level, and he was just happy for what winning the medal would do for her future.

Turner has coached several Olympic athletes during his career, and even has a gold medal on his resume.

He has coached all over the world and at every level over the past 32 years. He won the YMCA National Coach of the Year in 2006 and Coach of the Year for North Carolina.

And after his long list of accomplishments, Turner said he knew he needed a change.

“I decided that, you know, I love it, but the professional goals I set in my life, I kind of checked the boxes,” he said. “I coached collegiately, club and internationally and I just needed a new challenge.”

Turner said his drive to reach new heights and face new challenges was a big reason he decided to step away from coaching.

“I’m a super competitive person and I am driven by challenges,” Turner said. “When you coach for 32 years and you’ve done it at every level and reached every level of success, you feel like the challenge is waning. “

He still enjoyed it, but he said the schedule was beginning to take its toll, and the ambition was beginning to fade.

Turner was thinking about what to do now that his coaching career was winding down. He originally thought about becoming a home inspector, but he couldn’t see himself in 10 years crawling onto roofs and in crawl spaces.

So, after talking to one of the swimmers that Turner had coached 25 years ago, he decided on becoming a real estate agent, though he still helps out with the Stingrays Swim Club occasionally.

“I didn’t really know anything about it,” Turner said. “I thought you had to go to school for two years to get an associates degree or something like that.”

It turns out, all he had to do was take a real estate course online while he was finishing up his contract in China.

Turner found that the transition from swim coach to real estate agent was easy for him because he had contacts.

“I’m just reaching out to people and also reconnecting with people that maybe I haven’t talked to in years,” Turner said. “When you reach out to people from a friend-to-friend standpoint, they get it.”

During his first year as a real estate agent, Turner reached out to a few of his contacts that he hadn’t spoken to in a while with some success.

“People think that when they get their license, people will come to them wanting to buy a house – and that’s just not the case at all,” Turner said. “You have to go out and recruit just like in coaching.”

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