Truckee swimming: New-look Wolverines have numbers on their side
Dan Ingalls may be in his first year as coach of the Truckee High swim program, but on his first day, he saw many familiar faces walk onto the pool deck.
That’s because Ingalls, along with co-coach Betsy Hansen, has been working with Truckee-area swimmers for years with the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team. Instead of making sure they can stay afloat and make it to the wall ” legally ” at the end of a race, now he’s trying to make sure they get there first against high school competition.
“I’ve been working with some of these kids since they were little tiny peanuts walking around the pool,” Ingalls said.
Ingalls thinks that the familiarity swimmers have with him, and with Hansen ” a teacher at the middle school ” is a big reason for the large and enthusiastic turnout so far.
“When we saw the opportunity to coach here, and when we took the job, the numbers exploded from almost single digits to 46 athletes,” Ingalls said. “Many of the old club swimmers knew us, and a lot of non-swimmers were familiar with Betsy from middle school, so I think they were comfortable with us.”
The new-found depth made its presence felt in Truckee’s first meet this past Friday against Damonte Ranch. Though Truckee split the meet ” the boys team winning 124-91, the girls falling 169-105 ” Ingalls thinks the potential exists for both Truckee teams to become tough to beat.
With the sufficient raw materials to become a more competitive team, the challenge for the coaching staff is helping many of its inexperienced swimmers cultivate the skills necessary for success in the pool.
“For a multitude of reasons, there’s more enthusiasm, more involvement,” Ingalls said, “but the problem is that, as a result, only about one-third of the swimmers have experience. The rest of them are practically first-timers.”
Ingalls described the Truckee-Tahoe region, and Northern Nevada as a whole, as a sort of “aquatic wasteland,” where there is not much awareness of or involvement in competitive aquatics. He thinks that can change, as long as athletes stick with swimming over the long haul.
The ideal course is for young kids to get involved in club swimming and then enter high school with a competitive background in the sport. But right now, the coaches are dealing with high schoolers who haven’t yet been instructed in the four competitive strokes.
“When we have to start off by teaching them how to pull off a two-handed breaststroke finish, we’ve got a ways to go,” Ingalls said. “We’re not even looking at fitness right now. We’re just making sure we swim legally.”
Still, the teams have some impressive talent with which to work. Sophomore Cara Silvas ” the lone girl to represent the Wolverines at State last year ” finished the 500 freestyle 25 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor in the Damonte meet, touching the wall in 5 minutes, 18.14 seconds. The boys team is led by sprinter Dustin McQuary, who brings a wealth of experience to an otherwise young team.
“At this point, we’re optimistic that we’re going to have five kids go to the state meet this year, whereas last year there was just (two),” Ingalls said.