HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Buhler High School senior Mady Morrell wanted to compete for her high school swim team; however, when she was a freshman, that team didn’t exist.
“Swimming is kind of an underground sport, not a lot of people know about it or pay attention to it,” said Morrell.
With the help of her club coach, Shane DeWeese, she would advocate for a chance to represent her school and her community in the pool.
“It started as just an idea my sophomore year,” said Morrell. “We went in front of the board, and we both spoke about it a little bit, and they passed it right there.”
Now, swimming is making a splash in Buhler.
“My son is in seventh grade, and he’s coming up. We didn’t have a swim team at the high school, so I wanted to get things ready for him,” said DeWeese, Buhler High School swim coach. “Even if my son wasn’t swimming now, I would still do it. The joy that I see from the boys and the girls in both seasons are worth it for us.”
After just two weeks of practice, the team’s inaugural season was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was kind of hard to cope with, I guess in the beginning because I had really big plans for myself,” Morrell said. “I was really excited about all the girls that were out for the team.”
“Last year was actually kind of rough for me,” admitted Buhler High School senior swimmer Ava Gladow. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to come out this year or not, but I’m really glad that I did.”
Although the young program never competed in its first attempt at a season, they learned a lot about a sport that was new to all but two of its members.
“We were only in swim for two weeks, but within that, I know that I learned so much,” said Emilie Schweizer, Butler High School sophomore swimmer and state champion wrestler. “I knew so much more than I did last year, just with that two weeks.”
With so many girls new to the sport, an emphasis has been placed on fundamentals.
“We really focus on learning the basics behind swim, so we can have swim as a sport for life, and not just competing,” Gladow said. “That is an important part of the sport, so it’s just good to know how to swim and how to take care of yourself and stay physically active.”
“There’s a lot to learn with swimming, and there’s a lot of technique,” said Morrell. “You don’t just go in and go fast. It’s a learning process, but with practice, like anything else, you’re going to get better, and you’re going to cut time.”
Morrell has already reached her goal of making it to state, with a time of 1:17.26 in the 100 breaststroke.
“I want to do well for myself, but at the end of the day, it is really about the team and just doing well for each other,” said Morrell.
For DeWeese, cutting time is not the only measure of success: “I would love to hear back from the girls to hear they are still swimming, maybe doing triathlons, or teaching other girls or boys how to swim. We won’t know those results for quite a while, but for now, we are excited that the girls are having fun.”