Stillwater swimming teams success starts early

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - The Stillwater swimming teams have a long list of accomplishments. The tradition rich program starts training at a very young age.

The Pioneers recently won the Class 5A state title. The Lady Pioneers have been the runners-up for the last three seasons. The success starts early in Stillwater, with many of the swimmers being coached by former Stillwater swimmers.

“The coaches have swam at Stillwater High School. It’s kind of a legacy thing going on. I know what they’re doing. They’re giving them good instruction and knowing the importance of knowing all of the different strokes and how to be competitive,” Stillwater coach Kurt Goebel told The Stillwater NewsPress (http://bit.ly/1dRrQbD).

Goebel guessed that approximately 70 percent of the swimmers on this year’s swim teams have gone through the YMCA swimming program.

“When I get them in high school we train them hard and try to fine tune them,” Goebel said.

The Stillwater YMCA swimming team, the Shockers, begins at pre-K through 12th grade. The team has won 17 state titles and won the last five in a row. Darci Thomas, head coach, and Blair Johnson coach the Shockers.

Darci and Blair have really done a great job to set these kids up to have success,” Goebel said.

The Stillwater High School swimming teams see a direct connection following the Shockers’ success.

Stillwater also has a club USA team.

“They’ll have some experience there. Normally those kids are pretty serious about it and it goes right into the success of the high school,” Goebel said.

The Shockers see the success that Stillwater has and knows that it could be them.

“There’s an expectation to do as well, if not better than the people before you. Those swimmers set the groundwork. If you’re going to have Pioneer on your chest you need to be able to step up to the plate and perform because there is an expectation and a legacy with our swimming program here,” Goebel said.

Thomas has been the head coach for the last three years. Thomas graduated from Stillwater in 2010 and has been swimming since she was 5. Thomas brings knowledge of tradition for being a Pioneer to the Shockers.

“It’s fun to watch them grow from their first day of practice, not knowing what butterfly or freestyle is, to now being a state champion. It’s really exciting for me to see that they’ve come so far. It’s really cool to watch their whole growth process,” Thomas said.

Stillwater’s state title boys’ team and the runners-up girls’ team is known among the Shockers. The young swimmers believe that one day it can be them swimming as a Pioneer and possibly bringing home a championship to Stillwater.

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