Swimming: Success in the area starts at a young age

Dynasties are created by success but also by a mindset. What the Dexter swimming and diving team pulled off last weekend is testament to the old saying about how hard work is usually rewarded.

And the Dexter seniors not only leave with a state championship but they leave behind an example for the younger swimmers on the team to take with them next year and for years to follow. The underclassmen will take this year’s success into the pool next year and pass it down the line – that’s how you build a dynasty.

“The younger kids in the Dexter school area will not only see it but try to live up to it and strive to do the same things,” said Dexter Coach Michael McHugh.

The paint is still dry on this week’s state title but the Dexter coaching staff is already considering that new untouched canvas that awaits next season.

“As coaches we are always looking ahead,” McHugh said. “We are always looking to who is coming up. And we lose quite a bit but we also have a pretty good group coming back.

“Our goal is always to do the best we can and if that’s at the highest level in the state than that’s what we are going to shoot for.”

The championship completed an impressive six-season run for the Dexter swim program – a dynasty for sure. Dexter was third in 2011, state champs in 2012, fourth in 2013, second in 2014, third last season and now state champs again in 2016.

The victory also capped off an impressive weekend for Southeastern Conference teams. Saline took second overall in the Division 1 meet at the Holland Aquatic Center with Skyline fourth and Pioneer fifth as three SEC teams placed among the top five. Ann Arbor Huron finished 10th overall to put four in the top 10.

At last year’s state finals, the SEC placed three teams in the top 10 with Pioneer third, Saline fourth and Huron seventh.

At the Division 3 meet at EMU, Chelsea was third overall after finishing second last season.
The SEC placed six teams among the top 10 in the three divisions in 2016. McHugh called that stat impressive but not surprising.

“The SEC has to be one of the best conferences in the state,” he said. “Every year there are teams from this conference that win a state title. Every year it seems to be multiple teams either winning championships or finishing near the top.”

Pioneer has been a dynasty for decades. Saline has been a state powerhouse for the last 10 years and Chelsea has been coming on in recent years. Huron has one state championship and Skyline also has built a great program.

“I would be hard pressed to find a better conference top to bottom in the state than the SEC,” McHugh said.

All this success begins at the beginning – in the youth programs around Washtenaw County.

“It’s Club Wolverine, Dexter Community Aquatics Club (DCAC), the Saline Stingrays, the Chelsea Aquatic Club; these feeder programs that help us as the high school level have this incredible success,” McHugh said. “Without the starter clubs and the summer clubs in this area the high school swimming wouldn’t be as good.

“These clubs and programs help get these kids interested in swimming and keeps them interested by having fun and swimming fast.”

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