The Willowood Bluefins swim team and coach Daniel Mikula are preparing to open their 2017 season against Devon Crest on Saturday, June 17.
The Bluefins moved up from the B division to the A division last year and Mikula said that move proved to be a fruitful one.
“We found it to be a great fit,” Mikula said. “While our record shows only one win in our division, it must be noted that three of our losses were decided by a handful of points.”
Those meets could have different results if it were not for missing a swimmer or two due to conflicting summer schedules.
Mikula also said the close competition in last year’s meets will “absolutely fuel the fire and have given the swimmers the confidence that they need to compete in the upper divisions.”
In order to prepare the Bluefins for the upcoming season, Mikula and his staff have focused on the basics, including conditioning and building into race preparation.
“We are not focused as much on the record at the end of the year as much as paying close attention to getting faster in the water while continuing to build upon the strong foundations the program has built in years past,” Mikula said.
Welcoming new Bluefins to the team is one of the more exciting features of a new season for Mikula. The team, as a whole, is well balanced and the coaching staff expects to see several swimmers raise their level of performance to contribute to the team.
“I do expect to see the swimmers contribute great results as a team when all is said and done, but you can’t grow a mullet in a day,” Mikula said.
New swimmers will certainly have more experienced senior swimmers that they can lean on to gain knowledge from.
“Kaitlyn Welch, Caity Young and Frank Arendt will be our graduating class and senior leadership this year,” Mikula said.
There will be no shortage of familiar faces on the coaching staff to current Bluefin swimmers.
“[We have] a very strong coaching staff with two of our recent graduates returning on deck, Zach Young and Olivia Nolt, and we have also added a collegiate swimmer and local standout, Gabby Licata, to round out the staff,” Mikula said.
Coach Mikula understands that swimmers look forward to qualifying for big post-season meets, but he and his staff have tried to develop a mindset that does not look too far down the road.
“We want to swim our best with each splash,” Mikula said. “By focusing on the process and individual elements of racing fast, the product of post-season swims will fall into place.”