2009 State of the Team

Welcome everyone to the upcoming 14th season of Osprey Aquatics. OAQ started in the fall of 1996 with 26 swimmers. Last year we finished the season with 108 swimmers and this year we will begin with 124.

The 2008-2009 season was our finest year to date. The highlights were many. At the Zone 1 South Championships in January, we placed 2nd in the mid sized team division. At Short Course Far Westerns in the spring our 13-14 girls relay of Miranda Carter, Rachel Owen, Linnea Mack and Kasey Schewchuk won the 200 Medley relay in a meet record time of 1:49.17. This was the first FW relay win in team history and helped the team to a 12th place finish out of 120 teams.

At CCS in May, we had 4 swimmers final top 16 and get second swims on Saturday. Junior Jamie Walitsch, junior Mollie Selfridge, freshman Michelle Berry and senior Christ Scott set personal bests and broke team and some school records in the process. Chris also made All American in the 100 fly, a first for the team, with a swim of 50.3.

At the Pacific Swimming Long Course JO’s in July, the team finished 4th out of 73 teams, improving from last year’s 6th place finish. It was our best performance yet at JO’s. Over 30 Osprey had individual swims and an unprecedented 16 swimmers finaled throughout the course of the meet, for a total of 68 second swims. Another team high was established with 11 first place finishes for the team. Cat Ladd won the 50 and 100 free, 50 and 100 back for 11-12 girls. Linnea Mack took the 100 free and 100 back on her way to winning the High Point trophy for 13-14 girls. The same 13-14 girls relay mentioned above swept both the 200 and 400 Medley Relays. Michelle Berry won the 400 IM for 15-16 girls. Jamie Walitsch won the 200 fly for 17-18 girls. Justin Coglitore won the 200 back for 17-18 boys and all of these wins were accomplished with lifetime bests and team records.

OAQ won SVSL’s for the 3rd straight year. Our swimmers did an excellent job, posting 68% of total swims as lifetime bests across the board, a tremendous number for the entire team. Along the way there were 19 new B times, 17 new A times, 11 new JO times and 11 new FW times.

In 2007/08 we set 111 new team records, an all time high. At that time, we only kept count of the record being broken, so if the same record was broken more than once we counted that one time instead of two. This year we switched to a more accurate count, so that if the same record was lowered three times over the course of the year we counted it three times. One could expect this year’s number of broken team records to be higher by virtue of this. But that alone doesn’t explain the staggering number of team records broken across the board in all age groups. We simply had our best year yet, and with that we broke an amazing 399 short course and long course team records! For the 6th straight year OAQ was represented on Pacific All Star teams. Jamie Walitsch, Catherine Ladd and Courtney Dean were selected to compete in the North American Challenge Cup in La Mirada. Michelle Berry, Rachel Owen, Kelly Simmons and Kellen Power were chosen to compete in the Western Zones in Hawaii.

Jennifer Dean, swimming on scholarship at Washington State University, finished a successful college season at Pac 10’s and followed that up by returning to swim for the Osprey over the summer. Jennifer provided leadership for the team and bettered her own team records in the freestyles. After swimming at the Santa Clara International meet along with Chris Scott and Linnea Mack, Jennifer accompanied the team to Roseville for the Summer Sanders Invitational. Jennifer had a tremendous meet and came home with the 2nd place High Point trophy for the women’s division. After that Jen swam at Sectionals, becoming the first Osprey to final, going a new team record 58.3 to make consoles. Jen also broke her own team record in the 400 free with a 4:31.33. Jennifer returns to WSU as a junior this fall as a newly elected team captain.

Finally, at Long Course Far Westerns the team finished strong. Linnea Mack, Catherine Ladd and Jamie Walitsch all finaled in the fastest FW we’ve seen. Cat won the 50 and 100 back and Linnea won the 100 fly (getting the team’s first Junior National qualifying time) and 100 back. Though holding their taper, many of the 21 Osprey swimming individual events at the meet swam lifetime bests.

As in years past during the break, the coaching staff takes advantage of the opportunity to thoroughly review the past year and assess and evaluate the program, its past, its present and its future trajectory. This analysis provides the direction needed to chart our future course in a way that will facilitate the program’s continued growth towards excellence. Changes and adjustments are made where necessary in an effort to upgrade our system of coaching and swimmer development, the Osprey Way. Change is part of growth, in answer to the central question, "What are we doing well and what can we do to get better?" A big part of our success is the ongoing education of our staff. In addition to staying current and reviewing developments in the sport with 3 different coaching magazines received throughout the year, we read coaching books and network with other coaches, sharing and receiving ideas. When we don’t have meets, we get together on Saturdays after practice to go over process and procedure with the staff, making sure that the means and methods of our coaching system are understood and employed by all our coaches. This is also a time for collective feedback and dissemination of new ideas. Attending the American Swim Coach’s World Clinic is always helpful and this year we’re going to Fort Lauderdale for 5 days. There we are exposed to the brightest and most successful minds in our sport, coaches like Bob Bowman and others who have developed the world’s best swimmers. We invariably return with new ideas that we incorporate into the program.

Our Mission Statement remains: To develop individual potential towards excellence within a team structure and concept, to qualify swimmers for Olympic Trials and beyond. Our core values support this. They are for each individual swimmer:

  1. To develop a confident, winning mindset
  2. To develop the best possible technique and race pattern skill sets
  3. To develop a strong aerobic capacity, overall balance, core strength, connective coordination, strength and swimming fitness

For that purpose swimmers are placed in groups that will best suit their current individual phase of development and commitment, and provide them the best opportunity to improve.

Going forward we return the staff we finished with last year. I’m very excited about the talent of the coaches we have at all levels. We’ve never had more. Each has real ability and is excited and looking forward to this upcoming season’s opportunities.

I will continue to coach the Sr. 1&2. Currently we have 11 Sectionals swimmers (3 of them coming from Shannon’s Sr. 3) on the team, up from 7 last year at this time. I would like to see us have more finalists at CCS, more Junior National swimmers and get swimmers to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. I will continue to work with the Gold group, writing the practices and participating in administering the workouts on a daily basis. At each stage our coaches are laying a foundation of sound technique for our athletes and I think my work with the Gold group is an important part of helping to get those athletes ready for the Sr. groups. However, as our team has grown and the Sr. group has improved, increasingly we find the meet schedule for the Sr. and Gold groups differ and conflict, on many occasions leaving me unable to attend both. While that’s not always the case, it is so enough to warrant a change in structure.

At the same time Oliver has developed to the point that he’s ready and hungry for a new challenge. Oliver did a great job with Alex Kubacki last year, helping him go from a swimmer without JO times to a Far Western swimmer and consolation finalist at JO’s in Dec. That sort of outcome speaks volumes and shows what Oliver can do with a talent like Alex. Coupled with Oliver’s experience in the system – swimming for 7 years, coaching summers for another 7, and entering his 3rd season of year round – Oliver is ready. He understands the standards and expectations for the Gold group. He assisted me with the Gold in 2008, playing the significant coaching role in Phillip Fry’s meteoric rise from an A swimmer to Western Zones in one year. Armed with all that experience, and my own continued help with the group, Oliver is more than ready to become the lead coach of the Gold group. Oliver will also continue to coach the Gold 2.

For years Ian distinguished himself as one of our most talented technicians as a swimmer. He was instrumental in helping to refine our technique for back starts, teaching me something new in the process. Now he has continued in that vein as a coach. He did a very good job with the White group last year, keeping it fun and instructional while also implementing discipline, no easy task for that group. He also learned and gained valuable experience helping me coach the Gold group and demonstrated the teaching and organizational skills necessary for further responsibility. Ian will continue to coach the White group and will also coach the Gold 3.

Shannon continues to develop at an amazing clip. Her grasp of mechanics, physiology and the psychology of the sport rate her as one of the very top assistant coaches in all of Pacific Swimming. Her work ethic and passion for the sport are second to none. She is a wonderful partner to work with, complimenting my own strengths and weaknesses with her own, challenging me to continue to improve as a coach. She has not only learned from me, but also done her fair share of teaching as well, always seeking to innovate and find better ways to do things. For instance, her input into the how and why of the way we teach breaststroke has been instrumental in our success. Justin Colglitore is a very talented breaststroker, very close to his Jr. National time in breaststroke and an excellent example of how Shannon teaches the stroke. Shannon will continue to coach the Sr. 3 and Blue groups.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, we are faced with making a change. In the past our team has operated without the need for mandatory work hours per family. However as we’ve grown larger over the years this has become problematic. Swimming in general has a chronic need for timers at meets, and as a growing team OAQ is now assigned more lanes and timing slots to fill. That is the area we have at times struggled with for volunteers. While on the one hand we do have a strong cadre of volunteers, not only for timing but also for the many other jobs it takes to run the Osprey ship of state, on the other we’ve had those occasions where our volunteer system failed to work. Therefore we have to make a change. To address this we are putting into place a mandatory number of work hours per family. Most other teams have such a policy and once in place it works well. Each family is responsible for at least 30 hours per season, including timing. This can be bought out at $10 per hour and will be charged at that rate for anyone not meeting the requirement by the end of July. The hours will be prorated for families leaving or joining at mid season. We do have some ongoing jobs that would satisfy the total requirements for the season. If you are interested in one of those jobs let Shannon know. Otherwise most of the available hours will be timing at meets. Helping with fund-raisers, working as stroke and turn officials can also satisfy the requirement. We’re sorry to have to implement this but it’s become necessary and in the long run will benefit the team.

A great deal of thought has gone into group placements. Several factors are considered in each case. They are for each individual: maturity, stage of development, commitment, training consistency and capacity. We also factor in group size and standards. In general it is more advantageous to be at the top of one group than the bottom of another. A swimmer’s confidence can grow simply by being one of the fastest, most skilled in their group. They often train faster as well as develop as a leader within that group. A classic case in point is Catherine Ladd. Three years ago as a 10 year old with 2 FW times entering the season we considered placing her in the Gold group. Yet when considering the factors mentioned above it was our judgment she would benefit more in the Gold 2. Her parents trusted our coaching assessment and experience. It paid of handsomely. At season’s end, at Long Course FW’s Cat finaled 9 times, still a team record! The truth is that at some point all of our swimmers will be at the top or bottom of a group in their Osprey career. We seek to equip each of them with the mindset necessary to succeed regardless. Each swimmer who takes advantage of their opportunities, shows up regularly, focuses, applies their best efforts consistently and trains and races with toughness will improve. That’s what 13 years of team history have demonstrated beyond a doubt. We seek to help each swimmer improve, learn life lessons though the sport and enjoy the process.

Lastly, I want to thank all you parents for your support of the team and all of our swimmers. Your belief in the Osprey and our vision makes it possible for your children to have the opportunities they do.

See you on Sept. 14th for the start of the season!

Brian Bolster

The swimmers listed below are those who got their first cut and joined the ranks of Osprey JO and FW swimmers this year. Congratulations!

New Far Western
Meghan Arita
Mark Pontier
Kasey Shewchuk
Nut Taikeff
Robert Kubacki
Alex Kubacki
Connor Cleaver
Lauren Wong

New JO
Meghan Arita
Alex Kubacki
Audrey Berner
Connor Cleaver
Rachel Chen
Nut Taikeff
Max Borman
Zac Borman
Dale Prins- William