2 Tulsa teams sharing swimming coach and pool

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) - It is not unusual for one coach to be in charge of both the boys’ and girls’ swimming teams at a high school in Oklahoma.

One coach in charge of both teams from two totally different schools — that is far from normal. That scenario is even more unusual in a metropolitan area.

Often, swimmers in rural areas band together to form teams, share coaches and pools, but that practice is not common in a large area like Tulsa.

While they compete as two separate squads, the teams from Booker T. Washington and Edison train with coach Adina Norman at the Booker T. Washington pool. The same is true for the swimmers at Metro Christian and Sapulpa, who train together at Metro Christian with coach Jason Sauer.

Both situations happened almost by accident this season.

Prior to the season, an engineer deemed the Edison pool unsafe for use. The school worked out an agreement for their swimmers to use the Booker T. Washington pool to train in and use as a “home” pool for meets. In late August, Edison was suddenly without a coach, as well.

Norman spoke up and said she would coach both teams.

“Those kids at Edison were left without anything,” Norman told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1gTt4o8 ). “They were already planning on coming to our pool, so it made sense for me to coach them, as well. It really was all about giving those kids an opportunity to swim.”

Norman runs one practice, with the swimmers from both schools intermixed in the lanes. When it comes time for a meet, they wear separate team colors and swim for their respective schools. Booker T. Washington has 44 swimmers, but Edison is down to just six because the hassle of finding transportation caused six others to quit.

The situation was a bit different for Sapulpa and Metro Christian. One had a coach and no pool; the other had a pool and no coach.

Three years ago, Sauer left his coaching job at Booker T. Washington to re-start a swimming program at Sapulpa for the first time in 25 years. The school was without a pool so Sauer and his swimmers raised enough money to rent the old Jenks High School pool. They were thankful for a place to call home, but it was a struggle to continue to raise the money.

In late August, Metro Christian found itself without a coach. The school approached Sauer about coaching its team. Sauer was able to coordinate a deal where he would coach the Metro Christian swim team as long as he could also coach his Sapulpa team at the Metro Christian pool.

“It really benefitted both programs,” Sauer said. “It was a great merger and both teams are performing well. And the teams have actually really come together to cheer each other on.”

Norman reports a similar bond forged between her teams as well. Both squads participate in team building activities like movie nights and cheer for each other on the sidelines like they are one team.

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