Coaching change goes swimmingly thanks for ‘Chlorine Connection’

MARYSVILLE – Longtime Marysville swim coach Jaci Legore-Hodgins calls it the “Chlorine Connection.”

“Even when the waves are rough it keeps us bonded,” she said of her relationship with Meredith Jenks.

Legore-Hodgins has been coaching high school swimming for 28 years, 23 as head coach. Jenks has been coaching the boys combined Marysville—Pilchuck/Marysville Getchell team for 17. Next year, Jenks will dive in as girls coach, too, as Legore-Hodgins is retiring.

After turning 50, she said her priorities changed.

“Time with parents is a very high priority,” she said. “The family needs us.”

Retiring as swim coach means Legore-Hodgins can be with her husband more, play cards with her parents and in-laws, and play more golf, which she also coached at M-P. “It’s going to be fun watching the show,” she said of the swim meets.

She also knew it was time because her longtime diving coach, Dick Caldwell, is retiring. “It was hard to imagine coaching without the diving Yoda,” she said.

The two talked about possibly doing this next year, but when Legore-Hodgins asked if they could move it up Jenks was all for it.

“I love coaching. I love swimming,” she said.

There will be continuity in the program as longtime assistant Christy Taylor will stay on, and Shauna Kopischka, Jenks’ diving coach for the boys, will now also coach the girls.

Legore-Hodgins said, “I just knew it was time to pass the torch to the best person for the job.” She added that Jenks knows a lot about swimming – the knowledge and science of technique, along with the art of teaching it to make it fun. There’s no sport, other than wrestling, that is more uncomfortable because it involves using so many muscles, she said. “It’s fun to see how far you can push them,” she said of team members.

Jenks, who teaches English and social studies at M-P, said she enjoys coaching kids from both M-P and MG. “We work really hard. But we also make one big, happy pool party,” she said.

Legore-Hodgins is already excited about Jenks.

“There’s more buzz at MG than there ever has been,” she said. “She’s breathing new life into swimming.”

The two have known each other since before Jenks swam for Legore-Hodgins in the ninth grade. “She had to survive me as a coach,” Legore-Hodgins joked.

“She came out of the womb ready to coach swim,” she added of Jenks, whose mother also was a swim coach. Legore-Hodgins recalls Jenks being at the pool in her crib.

Jenks has three kids of her own – ages 6, 5 and 3. “They love the water, and if they ever want to get in there” to compete in swimming I’ll be glad to help, she said.

Jenks is the oldest of five kids, and they all swim. Her mom was her gymnastics coach and swim coach for the North Snohomish County Sharks. Jenks didn’t start swimming competitively until the seventh grade and ended up being a lifeguard and teaching swim lessons.

Legore-Hodgins teared up when she said when her favorite moment in swimming was. That’s because she was looking at her – her protege Jenks.

But she also said it’s been fun watching the school records change on the board as she’s been coach.

Both Jenks and Legore-Hodgins said their favorite part of the job is watching the kids change from freshmen to seniors. “The metamorphosis,” Legore-Hodgins said. “The transition of watching youth get ready to go out into the world,” Jenks added.

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