2021 Year End Review

Dave Anderson

2021 is quickly coming to a close.  In the last year, I have much to appreciate and be thankful for and I am really looking forward to 2022.


I will be starting my 27th year at Schroeder which is astounding.  My mother was a teacher and I recall that she was eventually teaching the children of her students and now it is happening to me!  Moms,Dads, and Grandparents are a very special treat for me personally when they show up with their kids to swim.


Numbers of young swimmers and divers have rebounded strongly this fall.  Many families were ready to get out there and engage again after 2020 and we got an extra and delayed bounce from the Tokyo Olympics.  This has been the case across the country but we can all feel it especially here at Schroeder!  Unlike so many other parts of our country, we are not / were not short staffed.  We have been fortunate to be able to retain and attract quality staff to work with both our experienced and new athletes. Unfortunately many of our club peers in both swim and dive  are having difficulty  finding coverage for their athletes.


Our adult participants/masters have had good opportunities to continue their swimming since May of 2020.   2021, while short on competitive opportunities, was highly successful for adults.  There are so many reasons our masters swimmers choose swimming as their outlet.  While competition is important to you, the myriad benefits of swimming was a constant for all throughout the past year.


The Mission of the WSAC is to maintain and preserve the Schroeder Aquatic Center for future generations of users.  The mission of Schroeder’s programs, which are an integral part of WSAC, is to both promote excellence and prepare youth for success in college and ultimately, prepare each for life.  2021 has been a year where both aims have been met.


In 2021 the WSAC enjoyed a good cleaning at the end of the summer with many small repairs completed all around the facility.  Although we had to wait a bit to reopen for a new motor for the main pump it all worked out in the end.  The kitchen got a tremendous update recently with a huge shout out to Leticia Anderson for getting so much of the work coordinated, pieces donated and time donated.  New lights were installed in the early fall ($60,000), no drips from the late 2020 roof redo ($200,000) were felt or seen for the first time in years! As we turn to 2022, there are three projects we hope to complete which include the remaining 1/3rd of the roof ($160,000), replacement of the bleacher seating for athletes on the east side of the pool ($100,000) and renovation of both the men’s and women’s locker rooms ($250,000+/-).


Schroeder graduated a big and powerful class who began their undergraduate careers this fall.  Additionally, the number of college commitments for both divers and swimmers is growing steadily as current high school Juniors and Seniors are zeroing in on schools across the country.  This year’s college freshman should be home soon.  I know many are having success in the classroom and the pool and it will be great to see them all.


One fun cooperative experience sticks out from the summer of 2021.  UW-M’s pool was closed this summer for maintenance.  Panther athletes were training with Schroeder this summer and it was good for all.


Schroeder continues to have a strong collaboration with the St. Augustine Preparatory Academy. Throughout 2021 students at Aug Prep received in person and virtual instruction around water safety.  Schroeder funds and helps to staff swim instruction for students at the school in exchange for the ability to utilize the Ramirez Aquatic Center before school, in the evenings and on the weekends.  This fall, with in person instruction going again, 700 children got a series of 25 lessons!  The students and families at Aug Prep, as well as Schroeder athletes and families both benefit from the great facility and programming.


The financial outlook is strong as we head into 2022 thanks in large part to the continued support from friends of Schroeder and the families who take part in our programs.  We have reserves for both planned and unplanned operational and capital expenditures. 2021 saw the steady growth in the size of events.  Many in the first half of 2021 were relatively small when compared to 2019.  We are all hopeful that this trend will continue into 2022 but the reality is that swimming registrations declined during the pandemic. An example is the number of USA Swimming registered athletes here in Wisconsin.  Currently, WI Swimming is at about 4500 where in 2019 we were about 6500 athlete members.


2021 was a surprisingly strong year for both youth swimming and diving.  Schroeder hosted three important dive contests which were possible because of our expertise in conducting complicated events. Wisconsin remained relatively open in 2021 and as a result Schroeder was one of the earliest programs to resume training and competition in both dive and swim.  Schroeder divers went on to compete successfully at the USA Junior National contest later in the summer at Indianapolis.


Schroeder swimmers actually raced more in 2020 - 2021 than in a typical year.  We have/had very good older and younger swimmers and finished the Spring of 2021 with great results at the NCSA Age Group Championships in Orlando, FL. he older swimmers won the National YMCA substitute meet!  Schroeder was instrumental in making the multi - site YMCA Festival a reality.  In the summer, Schroeder had the largest group of USA Junior qualifiers in program history and scored well in Irvine, CA at a combined Jr/Sr Speedo National Championship meet.  This fall, based on our LCM performances by 18 & Unders, the team was recognized by USA Swimming as a Silver Medal Club.   This places Schroeder as one of the top 50 of about 2500 clubs in the USA.


So it’s on to 2022!  


We have several important competition dates circled on our calendars in March and April.  20 of Schroeder’s top age group athletes will travel to Orlando, FL for the NCSA Age Group National Meet in March.  About 40 swimmers will head to Y Nationals in Greensboro, NC for the first time since 2019.  Later in April, Divers and Masters will go to Orlando for Y Nationals and Masters Y Nationals after a two year break.


Personally, I am hopeful that this positive trend I saw in 2021 from 2020 will continue into 2022.  I am so proud of the work and attitude of everyone connected with the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center and its programs.    Have a great holiday season and thanks for reading!


Dave Anderson