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Dolphins back in the pool with young roster

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Manteca Dolphins from the 9-10-year-old group work on the breaststroke.


POSTED May 14, 2014 12:24 a.m.

Coaches Chabre Basile, Jason Beier and Niki DeGeorge helped return the Manteca Dolphins swim team to prominence in 2013.

The Dolphins finished among the leaders in the Mid-Valley Swim League, crowned six high-point champions, and sent its strongest swimmers to the Meet of Champions in Roseville.

Their reward for all of that progress and performance?

Basile, Beier, DeGeorge, along with newcomer Melissa West, get to start over.

Basically from scratch, too.

The Dolphins head back to the blocks with a roster full of first-year swimmers. The Dolphins have the second-largest roster in the MVSL with approximately 220 kids and more than 50 percent of those swimmers are new to the program.

Gone are the Dolphins’ top performers from a year ago, including record-holders Scott Tolman, Johnny Buonauro and Mallory Brubaker, all of whom now swim year-round for Ripon Aquatics.

With a new and inexperienced group, the Dolphins coaching staff has tailored its goals. Instead of taking aim at an MVSL championship in July, the coaches are more concerned about winning the battles in the training pool.

“We lost several swimmers, so we are rebuilding quite a bit,” Basile said. “I want to see the team do well as a whole, but I think our main goal is to get everyone swimming with good technique and efficiently so that they have something to build off.

“I want them to go fast and have better times, but ultimately we want them to learn.”

Basile enjoys the challenge of coaching a pool of brand-new swimmers. Her coaching career has run the gamut from private backyard lessons to staff member with Central Valley Aquatics in Turlock.

“Personally, I think it’s the reason why I like rec swim so much. It can be frustrating and challenging at times, especially when you have a large group, but it keeps it kind of fresh ... keeps you on your toes as a coach,” said Basile, who swam with the Hughson Sea Dogs and a year-round program in Modesto. “It’s nice to start with good technique and then build forward.”

The time for pure instruction won’t last long.

The season’s first test is Saturday with the team time trials at East Union.

The time trials will also serve as a warm-up meet for the new swimmers and their families.

The first MVSL swim meet – the Tracy Invitational – will be staged at West High on Memorial Day weekend, May 24-25.

For the uninitiated, it can be zoo.

“We, as coaches, sometimes forget that swimming is its own sport. It’s a lot different than, say, soccer. It’s its own animal and we sometimes talk our own language,” Basile said.

“We all get excited for the meets, because we get to put our kids in the water and everything is so exciting. But it’s also a whirlwind. You have to slow down. That’s why we do these time trials. It gives everyone a stepping stone.”

The Dolphins finished third at the 2013 MVSL Championships and crowned a meet-high six high-point champions that weekend. Of those six, the Dolphins return only Ashlynn See (7-8 girls) and brothers Hayden (7-8 boys) and McKeane Beier (6 and under). All three have moved up in age division.

It’s too early to tell who might emerge as a champion or high-point contender this season, said President Priscilla Brink.

“I think last season was amazing and I’m trying not to compare it to this season,” she added. “My expectations are to give our swimmers the technique and skills to learn to compete and have success in this sport.”

Consistency amongst the coaching staff is key.

Basile and Beier return as co-head coaches. West is new to the staff but not the pool deck at East Union, where she served as the high school assistant. A sophomore at UC Davis, DeGeorge will reprise her role as assistant once she’s finished her classes.

“I guess you can say that my expectation for these coaches is to give our swimmers the best of what they have,” Brink said. “To guide them and to teach them what this sport has to offer.

“I want this to be a positive experience for the swimmers, as well as our coaches. I believe our coaching staff will be a high part of the team’s success.”

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