Coming off a highly successful 2015 season, The Dalles Swim team head coach Scott McKay is counting down the days for next season and beyond.
He expressed pride and honor in coaching more than 60 youths this past summer, and called it a huge step in the right direction in the first year back for the program after a one year hiatus due to the Ted Walker Memorial Pool renovation.
“There is a strong foundation of eager and enthusiastic swimmers and committed parents, on which to build a strong and successful swim team in the coming years,” McKay said.
One example of the youthful exuberance came two weeks ago in the fundraiser Dolphin Dive held at the North Wasco county Aquatic Center where athletes of all levels, from Fishies to Gold members, combined for 76.6 miles of swimming in an effort to raise funds for the program to purchase new equipment, add upgrades, offer scholarships and keep signup fees to a minimum.
Coming off the fundraiser, the team opened eyes in their final race of the season, The Bend Open Invitational, with 12 cutting significant times and eight racking up top-10 outcomes.
“It was a good meet,” McKay said. “Everyone swam personal bests and we had several swimmers score in the top-16, which is pretty good in such a large meet with some of the state’s best teams.”
Looking forward, McKay now has a ground floor with which to work on the fundamentals of the sport.
Cutting down times, pinpointing proper techniques, using pace to help finish long races, fostering lifelong friendships in a team atmosphere are areas McKay and assistant coach Scott Bergstrom will attack during the offseason.
Bergstrom previously swam for Hood River Valley High School and just finished his sophomore year at the University of Denver.
Given McKay’s experience coaching youths and high school participants and Bergstrom’s 13 years as an instructor there is plenty of knowledge to pass on to the swimmers.
“Scott (Bergstrom) was a great help as assistant coach particularly because of his national swim experience both as an age-group swimmer and as a Division I college swimmer,” McKay said. “He had great rapport with the swimmers and inside knowledge of the sport.”
The TDST coach said that every swimmer has the potential to do well and it will be exciting to see what heights they reach in three or four years.
He has Mac Abbas, Samuel Clear, Skyler Coburn, Lucas and Logan Mitchell, Dillion Waddington and Logan Alvarez as just some of the boys who can take another leap ahead.
The girl’s team is also a beacon of light that could very well challenge for state championships once they jump into the high school ranks.
Maisie Bandel-Ramirez, Lucille Booth, Kaylie Brock, Grace Haskins, Lydia DiGennaro, Lillian Dupuis, Kendall Webber and Hanna Ziegenhagen are a strong core that McKay feels could be a group on the rise.
“All of the swimmers improved as shown by their times at the Bend Invitational where every swimmer swam personal bests in all of their events,” McKay said.
“For several swimmers, it was their first meet. There is still plenty of work to do on the basics such at turns, starts and swim techniques,” he added.
During the spring, summer, fall and winter some athletes will play other sports or are engaged in other activities to take up their time and McKay admitted that it is a challenge to compete with swimmers who swim most the year, but TDST has been able to produce a solid crop of swimmers with just a summer program.
This past winter, The Dalles High School team had Allie Wood, Molly Nelson, Hannah Weeks, Annessa Clear, Ben Feil and Andrew Clifford earn state spots for the largest state-qualifying group for TDHS since 2009.
As the former high school coach, McKay prides himself in looking at the bigger picture when it comes to his swimmers, as he prepares them for greater competition.
With one year in the books, the goal is to make a few tweaks in an effort to build the program for the long haul.
“In many ways, this was the test year in learning how to work out the logistics with the new pool,” McKay said. “The swim team board will be looking at what went well and what could be improved and changed for next year, so we can have an even better year next year.”
At 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, the North Wasco County Aquatic Center is hosting a fundraiser Dive-In Movie, where swimmers can take a dip in the pool and watch a movie on a large screen.
For more information on this event or other activities, call 541-298-2020 or log on to www.tdswimteam.org.