YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – High school swimming has always been a part of the Valley, but in recent years, swim meet officials have seen a drop in swimmers.
Some high schools have even dropped their swimming programs altogether.
The cost of running a high school program is expensive for schools, especially ones that have only a handful of participants. Schools have to pay for coaches, training facilities, busing and gear.
So for small high schools that have limited funds and only a few students on their swim teams, it gets hard to maintain the sport.
“The problem really is for every school to hire a head coach and assistant coach. It just takes a lot of money, takes a lot of resources. You have busing and all kinds of issues going on and I think that’s why a lot of schools choose not to do it,” said Hubbard Community Pool’s Aquatics Director Craig Yaniglos.
For this reason, Yaniglos has started a new program to consolidate the Valley’s high school swim teams. He wants to bring individual high school programs with small amounts of swimmers together and have them practice under one roof.
“We’re basically taking those costs and minimizing them. We’re training everyone in a regionalized format, so we’re providing the coaching, the dry land training, the strength and conditioning training and all of that stuff all in one package,” Yaniglos said.
The program helps cut down on costs by spreading them throughout the schools. Each swimmer will still represent their high school.
If a student wants to swim but does not have a team at their school, they can join the program and earn points for their high school. Even students who are new to the sport can join.
Schools like Maplewood and Ursuline who have only one swimmer on their teams will still get the chance to compete.
Hayley Rabich, a lone swimmer from Maplewood, is embracing the program.
“Most of us are on different teams, I mean, there’s Howland and Hubbard and Maplewood, like me, and Ursuline, Liberty, Girard. We are all separate teams but in reality we are all one. We all cheer for each other, you’ll hear us,” Rabich said.
Brandon Staley is the coach of this new program, he said it’s just the beginning even though only a few schools are participating. He hopes it will grow next year.
“We would love to get to the point where we have to add a second site to our program, and that would be phenomenal,” Staley said.
As for the athletes, they’re ready to compete.
“For swimming, it’s everyone being there, it’s your teammates cheering you on. It’s not about that one person, it’s about the whole team. It’s not just an individual effort, it’s a team effort,” said Tyler Rich, a Hubbard swimmer.
There are now around two dozen student athletes in the program.
For those interested in the program, email Yaniglos at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a message at 330-534-1921 ext. 5002.