Clarion Calls

Posted: Friday, October 01, 2010

Jeff's call: Giving Van Driessche her due

In swimming and diving, coaches often only get attention when their team wins a region or state title.

The problem is that this makes it impossible for coaches at small schools to get much attention. In order to win things like region or state titles, a school needs depth. Small schools normally do not have enough swimmers to win region or state titles.

That means that for over 30 years while coaching at Seward, Janet Van Driessche has not had much of a shot at region and state titles. That does not mean she is not a stellar coach.

Van Driessche has fashioned a reputation as a coach that does a great job of teaching swimmers each stroke. Her teams are known for quality, not quantity.

The one meet that showcases Van Driessche's ability as a coach is the SoHi Pentathlon.

At the Pentathlon, each swimmer participates in the 100-yard individual medley, the 50 freestyle, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke. The times of those five events are added up to determine the winner.

Having to swim all the events plays nicely into Van Driessche's desire to teach each swimmer all the strokes.

The Pentathlon, which usually features all of the teams in Region III, also is unique because only the meet's top 16 swimmers go into the calculation of the team score. That actually gives the Seahawks a chance, because three or four skilled swimmers can be enough to mount a charge at the title.

Saturday, the Seward boys were able to win the Pentathlon title with four swimmers combining to score 33 points. Ryan O'Leary was second by just four-hundredths of a second, while Nick Broughton was seventh, Josh Eavis was 14th and Sam Werner was 16th.

Kodiak, which has won the Region III title in six of the last eight years, finished second at the meet by scoring 30 points.

Of course, Seward has no chance at winning the Region III title. But the performance by the Seahawks at the Pentathlon shows that Van Driessche and Seward can compete with the powerhouses of the region at a meet that showcases Seward's strengths.

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