Coaches Corner with Swimming Coach Lee Willing
Coaches Corner with Lee Willing the Swimming Coach.
The ReSporter: Hey Coach, could you tell us about how the team did at the 3A and Under Championships?
Coach Willing: “The team did OK at the 3A meet in Burnet. We had several kids fighting the flu so it was a tough meet for us. There is a movement to split the UIL State from its current 5A / 4A & under to 5A, 4A and 3A and under. This meet was a move to show the UIL that 3A & Under can be competitive enough to support its own state meet (there are aprox. 65 3A schools that currently offer swimming). There were 15 teams (7 from West Texas). Our boys placed 5th and our girls placed 8th.”
The ReSporter: What are your expectations at the upcoming UIL 28-4A Championship Swim?
Coach Willing: “Our team goal is to improve upon our place at last years District and Regional meets. Both the boys and the girls placed 7th at the District meet last year and the girls placed 17th at Regionals. I am confident that the boys will show a much better account of themselves this year. Our girls team graduated several swimmers last year and are rebuilding this year so they may have a more difficult road ahead.”
The ReSporter: Who are the athletes that have a good chance of advancing or scoring significant points for Canyon Lake this year?
Coach Willing: “Seniors Christian Payne and Conor Martin along with Junior Christian Duarte and Sophomores Cam Stone and Kelton Myers have a great chance of placing high at the District meet and qualifying for the Regional meet on the boys side. Senior Ariel Lessard and Sophomore Tressa Vannella should do the same on the girls side.”
The ReSporter: I did an article for Smithson Valley a couple of years ago and seem to remember something about how the scoring goes based on both Boys and Girls in some Meets.
Coach Willing: “Officially the scoring is seperate boys and girls. The UIL does not recognize combined points as any official result. That being said, some meet hosts do offer up awards for “combined” champions.”
The ReSporter: Where is Canyon Lake based on other schools that have competed at this stage of maturity?
Coach Willing: “This will actually be our fourth year of competing at the district level. I would say that we are not your typical “new” program. Most new schools that open today open with large enrollments and are typically in suburban settings where there are already established swimming programs either at the club level or, at least, at the neighborhood level. We don’t have that. Our “experienced” swimmers are literally “experienced swimmers” because they might have grown up around the lake but they have very little competitive swimming experience coming into our school.”
“When I came here this fall, the first thing I noticed was the lack of meet experience and the need to actually teach the competitive strokes. When Johnson HS opened up in SA they were immediatly 5A State contenders because they were being fed experienced competitive swimmers from the club system, the large and established neighborhood summer leagues and the other High Schools in the District. We don’t have any of that out here. The only racing experience most of our kids have is racing uncle Johnny from the boat to the dock! Almost all of our district foes have club systems feeding them kids. Since we don’t have that (yet) we are playing catch up.”
The ReSporter: Share some of the Athletes with us and how much they have improved throughout this season.
Coach Willing: “As a whole our team has improved tremendously. As I stated before, half our team was learning to swim correctly back in September. We surprised everyone when our boys won the Burnet 4A & Under TISCA Invitational back in November. The level of expectation has been raised both by me and by the swimmers themselves. Its great to have swimmers talking swimming. When I came here they didn’t know their best times, they didn’t know their competitors times or what it times might make it past the District meet. We have started to build an expectation of success and an attitude that working harder breads more success. The parents tell me that the program has improved. I know it is not yet at the level I want it to be or think it can get to.”
The ReSporter: Thanks Coach and good luck as you prepare for your final meets.