New boys’ swim coach ready to jump into role

Cassler celebrates his first win as a head coach. Instead of a Gatorade bath, the team threw him in the water. Photo courtesy Dustin Cassler.

Social studies teacher Dustin Cassler will take over as head coach for the boys’ swim team next season. Rampage recently caught up with him to talk about his hopes and goals for the season.

Q: Why do you want to coach boys’ swimming?
A: Swimming is a sport that’s been in my life since I was in seventh grade, which was 24 years ago. Since that time I have only had one season away from the competitive side of the sport. I love the competitive side of the sport, working with young men, and not only developing them into quality swimmers, but quality people as well.

Q: What do you love about the sport of swimming?
A: In swimming I love the fact that success isn’t just measured on the scoreboard, but by the time on the stop watch as well. Another aspect I love about swimming is that it’s a life sport that one can engage in throughout their entire life either in competition or just to stay in shape. Even though there’s no physical contact, swimming is a very tough sport as the season is a grind that can be very taxing on one’s entire body. I believe this helps to build mental toughness that goes beyond the sport and helps athletes later in life.

Q: Describe the culture of the SEP boys’ swim team.
A: I haven’t been around SEP boy’s swimming on a daily basis since I graduated from SEP. As a swimmer at SEP we always prided ourselves on displaying good sportsmanship, dedication to our team and school, and working extremely hard. As a former opposing coach and knowing Coach Adam Schulte who has coached the program for the past several years, I know the team has worked extremely hard, always displays good sportsmanship, and competes at a high level. As a SEP social studies teacher this year I’ve had several swimmers in class and they have always displayed respect and hard work, which I believe is a direct reflection of the culture Coach Schulte has created for the boy’s swim team at SEP. 

Q: What are your goals for your first season as head coach?
A: My goals for my first season is to continue to build the program that Coach Schulte and those coaches before him have established over the past several years. Specifically my goals for year one are:

  • Qualify multiple events to the State Swim Meet
  • Have 90% or more of the team swim personal record (PR) swims at their end of season championship meets
  • Break 1,000 power points on Quik Stats
  • Increase participation to 35-45 members on the team
  • Increase the number of swimmers training for swimming in the off-season along with bringing in more youth to our feeder program, Rams Swim Club.

Q: What is your coaching philosophy and where did it come from?
A: My coaching philosophy when I coached at East, and it will be the same here, is that we will be Blue Collar Swimmers. This means that we will work extremely hard everyday because the payoff is worth it in the end. It’s not rocket science, whatever amount of work one puts into whatever they are engaging in, is the amount they will get out of it. That’s not to say that a hardworking team has never fell short of their goals, but there is another lesson there as well; those who never lose are the ones who never competed. I also believe it is important to have fun. However, having fun is doing things the right way. My philosophy came from my high school swim coach, Larry White, along with several other coaches/mentors, clinics I’ve attended, and books I’ve read along the way. I am similar, but not exactly like any of the coaches I’ve had because everyone has certain strengths, and one must find their own way of achieving success.

Q: What do you hope to teach your swimmers?
A: The main thing I hope to teach my swimmers is how to be a good teammate and person. Yes, I want to teach them how to swim fast, but for most, that’s for only a small portion of their life. I think the life skills of being a team player, hard work, responsibility, mental toughness, and dedication are far more important because these are the skills that will help them throughout life. 

Q: Describe the SEP boys’ swimming program in three words.
A: Dedicated, sportsmanship, and hardworking.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Since I decided to pursue a career in education and coaching my goal was to become a social studies teacher and a swimming coach at my alma mater Southeast Polk High School. Now that this goal has become a reality, first I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity, but I also know that it is time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I will also do my best in attempting to provide the same great experience I had as a student athlete at SEP to the student athletes I will have in the future.