Plains Piranha’s swim coach Danika Whitcomb is not only trying to cultivate young swimmers, but also allow her team the opportunities and life lessons she received through swimming for a club for 13 seasons.
Whitcomb, a native of Plains, began swimming with the Piranhas as a 5-year-old and is now the head coach. Whitcomb said she felt swimming 2,000 meter practices during the summer allowed her to develop a “good work ethic.”
“Swimming is a really hard sport (to do) and, every night during the summer, participating in the sport took a lot of dedication,” Whitcomb recalled. “When you are practicing, you have to do what the coaches tell you to do and it takes a lot of dedication and a good work ethic. I made a lot of friends there.”
The Piranha’s are now in their fourth week of a season that lasts until the first weekend of August. Some of the swimmers will be gunning to make it to regionals and state, but, according to Whitcomb, accolades aren’t her ultimate goal for the majority of the swimmers.
“I just want to see everyone improve on their times,” she said.
Whitcomb said she coaches a lot of swimmers that are new to the sport.
“Absolutely, I get a lot of new swimmers and I just want them to get better and see them improve,” Whitcomb said. “They’ve got to really want to learn and ask me questions without having to prompt them. I just want them to learn and I want to help them achieve their goals in the sport.”
The Piranha’s have around 20 kids that swim two hours a day and are “bound to improve,” according to Whitcomb.
“Each swimmer varies greatly in the amount they improve and it depends on how much each swimmer works during the summer season,” Whitcomb said. “If you are getting into the pool and swimming one or two hours a day, you are bound to make some improvements. If you are doing your strokes right, it’s really amazing how much improvement that you will see.”
Whitcomb said she has several swimmers that are hopefuls for divisional and state. State is where the eastern and the western side compete with another with the goal to be crowned one of the state’s best in various events.
“We’ve only got a few swimmers that will qualify for state,” Whitcomb said. “We have a couple of meets left as a team and we will still have quite a few kids going to these invitational meets.”
Whitcomb said she felt the state meet is a good experience for the kids good enough to qualify.
“Those state meets are super cool and you get to swim against kids that you haven’t seen all season,” Whitcomb said. “The state meet is super competitive and you have to know exactly what you are doing at the state competitions. You have to swim your race and hopefully, you figure it out before you qualify for state.”
In the competitive world of swimming, many coaches push their students as hard as they can in hopes of generating maximum results, according to Whitcomb.
“There are a lot of coaches that work their kids and make them do a ton of sprints,” Whitcomb said. “I would like my kids to work on techniques because our season is nine short weeks and if you don’t have a good stroke, it doesn’t matter how good of shape you are in.”
Whitcomb said she wants them to learn “good technique” and take up a sport as opposed to just winning, which has become the bottom of line in many competitive and recreational sports.
“I think it’s great if they are swimming better strokes, and I honestly just hope they enjoy the sport and stick around like I did for 13 years,” Whitcomb said.