New swim coach comes to the program

By Drake Hisrich, Feature Editor — When the calendar flips from October to November, there are many changes that occur. Our wardrobes change from thin long sleeves to thick winter jackets, our excitement for Halloween changes into excitement for the winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas and our High School athletic seasons change from the Fall to Winter sports. One major change occurring at the school will be in the pool with the Swimming and Diving team.

The Swimming team will have a new coach in charge of the program for the second time in three years. North Canton native Zachary Hawkins took over the helm of the boys and girls Swim teams this year in his first head coaching job of his career.

There will be many changes in this year’s team from last year. There will be only one returning member of the coaching staff from last season and one returning senior with swimming experience.

“Everything is going to be different this season. Practice is going to be different, drills will be different, even the meets will be different,” senior Connor Kimble said.

With so few returning swimmers this season one of the main goals for the off season was to recruit new swimmers for the program. One of the ways Hawkins attempted to add new members to the swim team was by joining the Cross Country program this fall as an assistant coach of the Boys Cross Country team and developed bonds with many of the runners.

“A fourth of the new swimmers joining the program were runners on the Cross Country team, so being a member of the Cross Country program definitely helped out with the Swim Program,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins, being a member of the Cross Country coaching staff not only helped inflate the swim team’s size, but it also provided him with a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of coaching from experienced Varsity distance coach Brian Krosse.

“Coach Krosse gave me great advice in the organizational skills of coaching such as transportation, agendas and preparation,” Hawkins said.

As much as Hawkins has learned from Krosse and the Cross Country coaching staff, he learned just as much from rival school North Canton Hoover’s swim program. Hawkins had been apart of the Nemesis swim team at Hoover since he was in the 7th grade and much of his coaching style was shaped from his time at Hoover’s program.

“Hoover’s swim coach is a great friend of mine that I’ve known for a long time, so naturally much of of my philosophy came from his program,” Hawkins said.

One of the major philosophies Hawkins is instilling into the program is focusing on sprint and turn work, so the team will be able to physically compete with any program the team faces.

“We don’t practice sprinting enough in High School Athletics. Whether it is swimming or track or cross country or football you need to know how to sprint because you are always going to have a time when you need to go into a full out sprint in competition,” Hawkins said.

On top of focusing the bulk of his in-pool practices on sprint work, Hawkins also looks to focus on dry land weight training to get his athletes into the physical shape to compete in swimming.

“Zach is focusing a lot more on conditioning and weight training than in years past and I think that will be very effective on such a young inexperienced team,” Assistant Coach Julie Bertke said.

Whether Hawkin’s new styles, philosophies and techniques pay off in the swim team’s long term success has yet to be seen, but the one thing that is for certain in the swim program is that it is in for a complete overhaul with a new coach at the helm of the program.

[Updated Aug. 19, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]