Swim team grows as new changes continue to come to program

Coaches and athletes believe that dedication to the program has resulted in state appearances


By Jena Smith

Freshman Chris Sprenger swims in the 200 yard IM. Sprenger placed second overall in the event.

Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

Ever since the 2012-13 season, the swim team has progressed from a small club to a program with annual trips to the state swim meet.

Simply getting the athletes used to swimming at the high school level was the main goal at the beginning, according to former Mill Valley swim coach Alissa Ruffin.

“The first year, there were only four swimmers with year-round swim experience on the team, and three of the four were seniors,” Ruffin said. “While this meant that our sophomore year of existence as a team would mean we’d lose that experience, it set the tone for the program as to what strong swimming work ethic looked like.”

Boys swim assistant coach Kristen Crandall believes the team’s strong bonds are what make the team stand out.

“With any sport, any program, working to have a certain culture [is important],” Crandall said. “The boys are starting to have their own traditions and they’re building a culture of hard work and being good teammates to each other. It’s really exciting to watch.”

The girls team has had difficulty  gaining the right mindset during practice, according to senior Jennifer Sims, with the head coaching position currently vacant.

“It’s been a little rough with coaching, since we haven’t had a consistent coach, but it’s growing because a lot of girls want to do it,” Sims said. “They take on more responsibility themselves, working on their own … [junior] Elaina Bartlow organizes the workouts. The captains take on more [responsibility].”

The drive to practice at Indian Trails Middle School in Olathe each day has also been a difficulty which junior Mitch Willoughby believes discourages students from ever joining the swim team in the first place.

“The thing that keeps people away from it is going out to Olathe to practice,” Willoughby said. “People don’t want to do that. It would be nice if we could get a pool here. A better location would mean that we wouldn’t have to drive 15 minutes for every practice.”

Even though Willoughby believes the lack of an on-campus pool might drive people away, the swim team still has 20 swimmers and one diver for this season. However, boys swim head coach Daniel Dervin still wants to add more talent headed into the future.

“We want to continue to recruit new swimmers and athletes from other sports,” Dervin said. “One focus we have is to convince football and cross country runners to try swimmer as a way of cross training for the spring sports.  Also, we would like to get a couple of the players cut from the basketball team. Since we are joining the [Eastern Kansas League], it would be nice to increase our numbers to 25.”

Ruffin sees the program growing in the future and keeping its stability due to the increase in popularity and the work by the current swimmers.

“Now that the program is in place and earning notoriety, middle school students have an interest in the team and are working to get better so they’ll be prepared for the high school level,” Ruffin said. “All three relays are already headed to state and there are already individuals who have either qualified or achieved consideration times. The program is thriving and continues to get better every year.”

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