Swim & Dive Preview: Captains and Coaches Set Goals for the Season

Aliah Char, Photography/Copy Editor

According to Roy Chaney– the MSHS Girls’ Swim & Dive team’s Head Coach– the diversity of incoming talent, a strong dive team, and close-knit friendships contribute the perfect recipe for a triumphant season. “These girls seemed fired up and ready to learn, and that’s all a coach can really ask for,” Chaney said. By having a well-rounded team, there are more opportunities for points to be earned, contributing to a higher overall score and eventually qualifying the team for more difficult levels of competition, such as Leagues or State. This year, he aims to be a good role model and wants to, “prepare the girls for what they want to achieve.” His philosophies revolving around success extend further than the pool though, as he believes one of his many duties as a coach involves keeping the girls fit mentally, physically and emotionally. “If they have other things happening in their life that they need some guidance on, I want them to be able to talk to me. I want to be able to guide them,” he said.

This thinking enables the development of a healthy group of swimmers who are, “capable of doing well at leagues or state, or anything else they desire,” according to Chaney. He is also looking forward to the benefits that the new dive coach– Jaycie Brown– will add to the team. According to him, all that’s required to triumph over doubt is perseverance, and a belief in oneself, a concept Brown embodies.

As his experienced seniors have exemplified, Chaney’s positivity, forward thinking and commitment have been transferred to his team. He feels it’s vital that “a team becomes a team” and having a devoted group like this years’ creates a support system where people care for everyone beyond the pool.

That kind of enthusiasm is contagious, a feeling that Dive Captain Delaney Sawyer (10) is no stranger to. “I can’t wait to start building that team relationship. That’s what’s going to really fuel those individual wins for everyone,” she said. “Those wins are what gets points for the team, which qualifies us for Leagues and State, so it’s super beneficial.” This season, Sawyer is striving to beat the MSHS dive record, which means increasing her personal diving division level (DD) top score from a 160 to a 192. “Yeah, it’s definitely a change,” she said. “I feel like it’s attainable too. I know what I have to do and I’m prepared to do it.”

There is no doubt the dive team has the capability to go far. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have two or three divers go to state this year,” Sawyer said. “The team has a lot of emptiness from seniors that left last year. I’m already seeing people step up to fill those roles. It makes me really excited.” She is also excited about having Brown as the new dive coach. “It’s great to have someone with experience. She’s not only been really successful as a diver but a teacher too. We can learn a lot from her; I know I already have,” said Sawyer.

One of the swim captains, Sydney Dolloff-Holt (12), also anticipates a fantastic season. “We’ve had a really good pre-season already, which I think says a lot. It kind of sets the stage for how the rest of [the season] is going to go,” Dolloff-Holt said. As one of the most advanced swimmers on the team, Dolloff-Holt has an intensive schedule. “I do doubles, so I practice two times a day, basically every day,” she said. “I’ve found that the more time I put in, the better I tend to do during meets.” Her focus has paid off though. “I was super close to being state champion last year. I think being that close makes me more motivated, I want it so much more now. I know that if I just work hard, practice my technique and put in the time, I’ll get there.”

The higher the level of swimming, the faster the swimmers, and, “once you get faster, it’s harder to shave off the time… and sometimes that 0.001 of a second is what sends you to the next level or not,” Dolloff-Holt said. “There’s a lot of swimmers and divers, the coaches too, who are all willing to put in the time. I think in the end, that’s what makes the difference. You can want it to happen for a long time, but deciding to make it happen is when you make it happen.”

As far as obstacles, Dollof-Holt sees another team from Denver as a slight bump in the road on the way to accomplishment. “We just have to adjust our style based on theirs is all, which we can do from observing. We have a team that’s really varied in their strengths, which is awesome because then we have all our bases covered.”

Kaitlyn Cashdollar (12), the other swim captain, has more team-related goals. “I really want to focus on the energy and team as a family,” Cashdollar said. Overall, the theme of teamwork seems to be a consistent favorite among the team leaders. Teams that are closer often find practices more rewarding, a key concept that Cashdollar hopes to incorporate into sessions this year. “I think cheering in practice and keeping the energy high is really going to help us,” she said. “Cheering during meets is great, but we have to remember to celebrate the little victories too, not just the big ones.” She knows personally how much a support system can help, having been on the team for many years.

This year, her main goal aside from bonding as a team is making it back the second day of State in the 400 free relay. “As a team, we’ve qualified for the event but never made it back. I’ve been on that relay all four years and I’ve always been passionate about trying to push further. It’s often an overlooked event because it’s the longest relay, but this year it looks really promising.”

She confesses that the biggest struggle for the team is going to be keeping spirits high. “We have a habit of getting ourselves down when we don’t do well in a meet or event and it just follows us. I really want to focus on the positive and focus on moving forward.”

In the end, it’s indisputable that the MSHS Swim and Dive team has a bright season ahead, filled with accomplishment, team spirit and personal achievement. A consistent cheering squad, motivated captains and dedicated coaches will no doubt enable every girl on the team to progress as people and as swimmers.