Boys’ Swim Team Update

Monica Cunningham, Rampage Staff Reporter

**Written before the November 30 switch to virtual learning.**

The 2020 boys’ swim team makes a splash into this season as the pandemic continues on.

Junior Seth Williams is eager to kick this season off on the right foot. Though there are many changes to the season, Williams and the team plan to make the most of it, even if they have to wear masks and stay socially distanced.

Senior Reed Wolfe swimming freestyle during practice. Photo courtesy Maddy Kieler.

“With the pandemic stopping all the team buildings we [usually do] together like the team dinners, breakfast, and the wrestling with the boys for this year, it’s hard building that strong connection,” Williams said. “But even so, we’re all looking forward to this season with the new freshmen that joined, which is quite a bit, and handle all the different changes.”

Williams has been swimming for quite some time, starting back five years ago for a team outside of school. His brother swam too so instead of doing baseball, Seth stayed with swimming. His events include the 100 Breast as his main event, the 500 Freestyle, and the 200 Medley Relay. He also has goals both personally and for the team. He hopes to make it on the Top Five Board for 100 Breast and for the team to make it to state as they almost did last year.

The swimmers start practice 6-8 feet apart with masks on. They will then stretch out before hopping in and getting on with their practice. It’s usually five swimmers a lane; two on either side of the wall, two at the flags on both ends, and one in the middle. The boys make it work even though they’re so spread out.

Before this season, Williams had a lot of memories from swimming and being on the team. But there’s one memory that he remembers fondly.

“We were at one of the team dinners and we were wrestling. I was a freshman when all this happened and I ended up going against a junior who wasn’t the nicest,” he said. “But I ended up winning so that was fun.”

Williams has this season left before his senior year. With that said, he passes on some encouraging words and advice for his swimmers, mainly the underclassmen.

“Work hard and do your best. Set yourself up to small achievable goals rather than big ones,” he said before adding. “Oh, and don’t forget to have fun.”

As if things couldn’t change any further, last year marked the final year for girls’ swim coach and math teacher Adam Schulte, who is no longer the boys’ swim coach. However, a new coach has taken Scultle’s place, making this the coach’s first year coaching the SEP boys’ team. And his name is… Dustin Cassler.

“Our season is off to a great start with a lot of hardworking young men,” said Cassler.

Cassler is a teacher at the high school but he isn’t much of a novice when it comes down to the sport. He was a student-athlete here at SEP with 16 years of coaching experience: 8 years of assistant coaching and 8 years as head coach for Des Moines East from 2003-2019. He was encouraged by Schulte to take his place as the boys’ swim team’s coach. Of course, it doesn’t come without challenges.

“At East, I knew every one of the swimmers,” he said. “But some big challenges include getting to know the boys and the new swimmers, the certain events and times, and the style of coaching since they’re used to Schulte rather than me. And of course, the biggest challenge is taking many small aspects for granted like the lanes and diving from the blocks while maintaining social distance since they have their masks off while swimming.”

A group of boys swimming breaststroke during practice. Photo courtesy Layne Sullivan.

Cassler wants to help the team achieve its goals and spread excitement to the team for this season.

“I hope for those slow swimmers on the team to become fast, improve their personal records, and qualify many events for state,” Cassler said. “I’m very excited for this season; lots of unknowns. But it’s worth it in the end when I get to watch all their hard work at the meets paying off from practice.”

Cassler leaves this last bit for the boys as some advice for this season and more to come.

“If one gets after it every day in practice, pushes themselves every set, the results will show come competition time,” he said.

Be sure to follow the team on Twitter @RamsMenSwim and their team page linked to their Twitter page. Also, go check out Varsity Bound for score updates and upcoming meets. Watch the live streams and cheer on your Rams boys’ swim team.