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Its a splash
M-P boys hit the pool
Despite returning the crux of his state swim contingent, M-P boys swim coach Scott Knowles has long operated on a philosophy that change is essential.
Its something the coach takes to heart. Despite heading the Tomahawk swim team since 1977, he said hes still learning something new about coaching all the time.
Its like building a dictionary you add a few words each year, he said. I think the worst thing you can do is the same thing every year.
So even though M-P looks to build upon their second-place conference finish last year they went 6-3 overall, 5-1 in conference and a squad with four state meet veterans, Knowles is still working his swimmers on conditioning and technique.
One thing motivating Knowles, if not the entire Tomahawk squad, is an early-season meeting with defending league champion Snohomish in the M-P pool Dec. 13. The Tommies struggled last season when they met Snohomish early on, Knowles said, but the team showed a lot of improvement afterward.
Although it would be nice to beat their conference nemesis, the teams goal is to swim their best at the end of the season. Its a strategy that paid off last year when the Tommies avenged two non-conference losses to Shorewood and Kamiak earlier in the season with a second-place finish at districts.
The team is led by four senior captains, including Aaron Goff, who anchored the Tomahawks state 200 medley relay, and returning state diver Taylor Gibson. Teammates Colin Krieger and Ryan Shay were also named to the team leadership.
In addition to Goff and Gibson, M-Ps other returning state swimmers are juniors Gabe Lopez and Trevor LeValley. The talented juniors each swam another leg of the medley relay and earned state berths in individual events. Lopez finished 15th at state in the mens 100 backstroke. LeValley was fourth in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 500 freestyle, events in which he plans to defend his school record.
What the team cannot bring back from last season, of course, are their seniors. The Tomahawks lost seniors John Henninger and Klayton Schlaufer to graduation, and the immeasurable leadership of the rest of the Class of 2007. Though its early to guess everyone who will step in to fill their void, Knowles was willing to make one prediction sophomore Oliver Durand appears to be swimming on pace for a state appearance in some combination of the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle.
One way the team lets off steam and measures their progress at the end of practice is by challenging each other to races. Its not mandatory, but many swimmers dive in from the starting blocks two, three or more times.
Even when theyre tired, I want them to think about moving fast, Knowles explained simply.