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Scecina swimmers put to the test by new coach

    Scecina's swimmers at a meet at the IU Natatorium.

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications 

 “You learn more from swimming because of the work you have to put into it,” says Dean Owens, Scecina’s first-year swim coach. 

 Owens, who swam competitively, loves the lessons that swimming teaches. His plan is not really to win meets; instead, it’s to challenge the young people as individuals to deal with adversity and learn to be resilient in life as well as in the pool. For that reason, he has them swim events outside their comfort zone.

“I always challenge the kids to do (a swimming event) they’re not good at,” he said. Owens has some raw talent to work with. Although this Crusaders team is one of the largest in years – 14 girls and 12 boys – about half the members never have even swam before this year, certainly not competitively. 

Watch video: Swimming at Scecina

One boy didn’t want to swim in water over his head. At the recent Brebeuf Invitational meet at the Natatorium at IUPUI, he finally was able to swim in the deep end. In another challenge, it took Owens half the season to succeed in having the boys swim strokes other than freestyle. 

Those victories warm Owens’ heart. “Individual success leads team success,” he says. 

While he talks, sophomore Eliza Leffler walks up after her heat and tells him, “I got my PR (personal record).” 

“And you didn’t even want to swim that event,” the coach says with a grin. 

One trip to the pool to see the Crusaders team in action shows their heart. There’s laughing, camaraderie and cheering for teammates. The final order on the scoreboard doesn’t matter as much as finishing strong and maybe setting a PR. 

One veteran is junior Michaela Lindsay, who’s been swimming for 12 years and practices year-round. She is the Indiana Crossroads Conference champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She was third in 100 free in the City Championship. This year, she broke three Scecina records: the 200 individual medley IM and the 50 and 100 free. She came came in first in two events at the Indiana Crossroads Conference meet, where fellow Crusaders junior Josie DeFreese was second in 100 free and senior Shuyao Li was fourth in 100 backstroke. 

She’s also enjoying watching her teammates “doing things they said they couldn’t do.” 

Many are just discovering swimming, like Allie Owens, the coach’s daughter. Allie, who was a member of the Crusaders’ state championship softball team in 2017, came late to swimming as a senior. “It’s really good exercise and it’s fun,” she said. “I wish I had done it since I was a freshman.” 

Coach Owens admits the stories make him emotional. He tells of two girls who did not want to swim the 200 free at the first meet, afraid they would be so far behind and embarrassed. 

“But they both swam it. And they both got out of the pool with tears. I’m sure some of that was a little humility,” said Owens. “But I am also confident that the tears were of relief and the knowing they had accomplished something they never thought possible. When I saw them walking back to the team bench, I got pretty emotional as well.” 

Coach Owens says he will be back. “I would not trade these swimmers for any other team,” he says. “The humility and the way they carried themselves with grace and pride… it’s been a great year.” 

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Crystal Harrell Collins '83 wrote:
I got to watch them swim during the beech grove meet. Was impressed with them.
My son swam 6years years at Southport.
Was excited to find out my proud crusaders had a swim team. Congrats and continued good luck.

Sat, February 3, 2018 @ 10:49 PM

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