The LRHS swim team has a new coach for the 2011 season.
The Lakewood Ranch High School swim team is diving into the 2011 season with new coach Peter Hegwein who was hired during the summer after previous coach Maureen Reid moved to North Carolina.
Hegwein has coached numerous club swim teams throughout the area. He began coaching his two children before they joined their local YMCA swim team. He continues to coach for the Sarasota Masters, an adult swim team.
Hegwein is adjusting to the differences between high school swimming and club team swimming. Club teams have the advantage to train year round, while the high school season is only during the fall.
"High school swimming presents a greater challenge in that there is a wider skill level and shorter season," he said. "We try and bring everyone up to speed quickly and ready them for the season ending championship meets."
In addition to the differences in skills, high school swimming also presents a different atmosphere according to Hegwein.
"The team atmosphere on a high school squad is much more energetic and infectious than a club team, no doubt," he said. "That makes it all the more enjoyable!"
Hegwein sets a strict practice schedule for the team in order to prepare swimmers for their many upcoming meets. They practice every weekday after school for two hours. To improve their strokes, Hegwein is currently focusing on endurance and technique, and from there will move on to power development and sprint speed.
"I am looking at strokes and ways to improve all aspects of a swim race; dive starts, turns, finishes," said Hegwein.
Hegwein has set high goals for the LRHS team this year. "I hope we can qualify as many or more swimmers into the Class 2A State Finals than last year and make a run at winning both the boys and girls team titles," he said.
In addition to meet goals, Hegwein hopes that his swimmers learn valuable lessons out of the pool as well. "My number one goal at season's end is for everyone to take with them a set of life skills that will help them as they enter college and beyond," he said. "Skills such as time management, loyalty, commitment, self motivation."
The swimmers are optimistic about their new coach and how he is preparing them for the season. "The new coach seems very dedicated to the team," said senior Ale' Shepard. "I think he will be able to help me improve my skills."
Freshman Courtney Lancaster said, "He seems to know a lot about swimming knows what he is doing."
Junior Shannon McCarthy agrees. "He is an experienced coach and gives us a lot of good advice. I am looking forward to a good season with him," she said.
The team is also adjusting to the changes Hegwein has made from previous seasons. "This year is definitely more disciplined," McCarthy said. "We are going to have to work harder than past years to earn a varsity letter."
The team seems to have the same goals for the season as their coach. McCarthy and Lancaster both want to improve their times, and McCarthy hopes that the team will place at state.
The team traveled to Lemon Bay Sept. 1 to compete in its first meet. Hegwein had some interesting goals for the meet. "I hope everyone gets to the bus on time and makes it to a seat without falling down,"Hegwein said jokingly. "I personally want the meet to go off without any surprises; ripped suit, lightning, concession stand running out of food/water."
The team started off their season with a win, beating out their two competitors from Lemon Bay and North Port. The team also placed well at the Venice Relay Extravaganza on Sept. 7, with the girls coming in second and the boys in third. The team continued to keep up the fast swimming at their home meet at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA on Sept. 14, beating rivals Braden River and Manatee by more than 100 points.