Despite a number of hardships this season, boys and girls teams both capture Ocean League championships
ATASCADERO — Atascadero High School’s (AHS) swim teams have a lot to celebrate. Not only did the JV swim team win the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) Ocean League Championships on Wednesday, April 26, both the varsity girls and the boys swim teams became league champions at Pioneer Valley High School on April 27. Atascadero News interviewed AHS head coach Alyx Truax about this year’s swim season and the week of big wins.
Atascadero News: What was it like to become the CCAA Ocean League Champions?
Truax: In my 17 years coaching at AHS, this might be the most satisfying of all. Not only because we won championships, but because this was probably the most challenging season ever. When you figure not having our own pool, no home meets, transportation issues, atmospheric rivers, and all that — it was crazy. But the kids persevered and worked hard, and it paid off. Keeping up with their school work, late dinners, you name it. They showed a lot of grit — in the best possible sense. An added bonus was the kids really bonded during all those bus rides. They’re a tight-knit group of friends who encouraged each other to work hard and be their best.
AN: Both the boys and girls teams won. What went into making that happen?
Truax: Three things jump to mind. First, the hard work by the swimmers in the pool. Add to that the mental toughness it took for the kids to gut it out with all the stuff outside the pool.
Volunteer coach Shawn Tucker’s contribution was huge. His knowledge of swimming and competition was key. He also ran practices and was a vocal leader at the meets. Shawn’s energy is seemingly endless, and the swimmers all picked up on it.
Another factor that helped: We brought up several swimmers from the JV team — who also were league champions, by the way. Coach David Strybel did a great job of quickly molding inexperienced swimmers into varsity swimmers, all of whom made key contributions on relays and in individual events.
AN: Can you tell me about what kind of training goes into preparing for Ocean League?
Truax: It starts about two weeks prior. Coach Shawn always says “little things count.” So we focus heavily on stroke technique, starts, turns, and finishes. The work on finishes really paid off at the meet. Katie Strohl won the 50 free by hundredths of a second. Talk about exciting! We always tell the kids to go hard into the wall. Katie hit the wall so hard she hyper-extended her elbow. But she got the win and a best time! Then she got right back in and won the 100 fly.
AN: I know the AHS doesn’t have a pool right now and that you’ve been practicing at Sinsheimer Pool in San Luis Obispo, so how do these wins make putting in that extra effort feel?
Truax: Again, it feels great. I look back and just shake my head at what we accomplished in the face of all the obstacles. And we are extremely grateful to the folks at the SLO pool. They were the best hosts we could ask for.
AN: What has it been like to not have a home pool this season?
Truax: Well, I’ve touched on the challenges already, but my workload at least doubled because of not having a pool. Coordinating transportation luckily with a lot of help from parents, dealing with other coaches at the away meets. At times it was maddening.
That said, we look forward to having our own pool next season. We only graduate a handful of seniors this year, so we should be a real force going forward. The future of Greyhound swimming is very promising.
AN: What has the 2023 swim season been like overall?
Truax: Overall it was satisfying. Along the way, though, there were many obstacles and frustrations.
AN: Are there any shoutouts you’d like to give?
Truax: I have to mention the contributions made by the parents this year. They deserve a lot of credit for our success. From driving carpools to sponsoring the pre-meet meals –— the parents stepped up and were a huge help to the coaches and the swimmers.
Congratulations to the AHS swim teams and coaches Truax and David Strybel on their accomplishments.