Dave Stannert conducts practice at the South Toledo YMCA.
Jacob Busch is a senior at Toledo Christian and is a member of the Eagles swim team.
Austin Kosier is a junior at Whitmer and is a member of the Panthers swim team.
Kendall Karchner is a junior at Maumee and is a member of her school s swim team.
What do they have in common, besides a passion for swimming?
They practice daily in the same pool, which isn t at any of their schools, and they share the same coach.
Dave Stannert, the longtime South Toledo YMCA swim coach, serves as their mentor. Stannert is actually the coach for more than two dozen swimmers from six high schools this year.
His name is listed in this year s coaching staff directories for Clay, Lake, Maumee, Start, Toledo Christian and Whitmer schools without a swimming pool.
It s a unique coaching situation for Stannert that came about roughly a decade ago when swimmers he coached as members of the South Toledo YMCA team needed someone to also serve as their high school coach. It s a role he has handled for 10 years.
It s a lot of work but it s well worth it for the kids, said Stannert. The kids get a lot out of it.
Besides coaching the swimmers during practice and at competitions, Stannert is in charge of filing entry applications for his swimmers and completing any other administrative paperwork. He also keeps in regular communication with the athletic directors from the schools.
All the swimmers are familiar with Stannert as a coach because all of them swim for him as members of the South Toledo YMCA team.
The biggest advantage is that I get to coach these kids all year, so they have a consistent training program, Stannert said. It s good recognition for the YMCA program, but it s a combination of coaching both. They represent their schools and they represent the YMCA.
We re still really one big team because we all swim for the Y, she said. I really don t think of them as my opponents because we re all on one big team.
Even though the swimmers attend different schools, the unique coaching arrangement has proven successful. Swimmers have come and gone through the experience. Approximately 10 of his former swimmers have gone on to compete in college.
Rachel Mathews, a Perrysburg graduate, swam for Stannert and recorded a half dozen Yellow Jackets swim records.
She is on the University of Akron team and believes her high school experience helped bring out the best in her abilities.
We all come from different high schools and that was nice because I swam with people at my level, said Mathews, a senior at Akron, who spent a few days of her Christmas break working out at the Y with Stannert and members of his high school teams. I thought the training was a lot more advanced for us.
Busch, a returning state finalist, believes the daily training with competition from other chools in the off-campus environment has its benefits beyond working out with other high-level swimmers.
It s an escape from school and I like that, said Busch, who placed fifth in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 200 freestyle at the state meet a year ago. It gives you a chance to be someplace else during the day.
Stannert works with most of the swimmers roughly 10 months out of the year. Often, they make great strides after the high school season.
Busch could become the first swimmer under Stannert to win a state championship.
We ve had several kids make it to the state finals, Stannert said. I believe we have a good shot at winning a state championship with Jacob Busch. He s been training hard.
The size of the groups from the schools that Stannert works with varies from year to year.
Sarah Stefan, a freshman, is the only student from Lake who attends the daily workouts with Stannert.
Busch makes up half of Toledo Christian s team. Paulette Bongratz, a freshman, makes up the other half.
Maumee, with a roster of 15 swimmers, represents the largest group Stannert is working with.
Kosier, one of eight Whitmer swimmers, said without the commitment by Stannert to take on the responsibility of coaching swimmers from several schools, the overall number of swimmers would probably be even smaller.
Hardly anybody even knows about the swim team at Whitmer, Kosier said. We don t get support from our school, and that s why it s kind of nice to be together with all the others.
Karchner, one of Maumee s top female swimmers, has found the multiple-team workouts more conducive for building overall camaraderie than hostile competition.
There are always going to be rivalries, but I think it s not as much since we all practice together, Karchner said.
Stannert believes his situation works because of the sport and the people involved.
They compete with each other in practice and mostly they compete with themselves, Stannert said. We re focusing on the individuals. If everybody goes out and does their best, that s what we re looking for.
Furthermore, Stannert makes it clear how he approaches coaching during competitions. His allegiance doesn t reside with swimmers from one school more than any other.
They re all my YMCA kids, so I root for them equally, Stannert said. We ve never had any conflicts because we root for individual success. Team success comes with that.
Contact Donald Emmons at:demmons@thebladeor 419-724-6302.
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