OXFORD — For the past 12 years, the Talawanda High School Swim Team has claimed the league title (2013-2018 SWOC; 2007-2012 FAVC).  Steve Pasquale, head coach (2009-present) hopes to claim the title yet again and much more. However, Pasquale does not simply bank on hope; after 11 years of coaching, he knows what it takes to make these goals a reality.

While the team aims to land their 13th consecutive SWOC win, they have their eyes set on achieving even higher goals too. Pasquale hopes to be sending 10+ individuals and multiple relays to districts to compete as well as sending at least one boys relay to state and a few individuals as well. These may seem like high expectations for a borderline Division 1 school, but with the hours of hard work that the swim team puts in each week, and under the leadership of Coach Pasquale, not only are these goals feasible, but inferable.

In the average week, the swim team will swim 10-15 miles. Swim practices (alongside weight-lifting practices) will total around 16 hours by the end of a regular week. Swim meets can last upwards 4 to 5 hours and sometimes there can be 3 of them within the span of just one week. Pasquale added, “You get tired, you get sore, and it is you and your thoughts underwater for two hours.  That is quite mentally taxing and it can be a drain on you.” In an attempt to alleviate this mental taxation, Pasquale has each of his swimmers fill out a “goals sheet” containing all of their goal times for the season and other goals such as qualifying for districts team. “If you have an end goal in your mind that makes it so much easier to get through practice. It provides a rationale for why you are subjecting yourself to that torture every night,” Pasquale continued. By seeing what goals swimmers have for themselves, it also helps Coach Pasquale to focus on the specifics for each kid and help them to achieve the personal goals they have for themselves.

This deep-rooted determination Pasquale has to make sure each kid improves throughout the season, stems from the respect and deep rooted concern he has for each of his swimmers. Talawanda Junior, Deidre Payne has been swimming under the leadership of Pasquale for the past 11 years, “If he wasn’t my coach, I don’t know if I’d still be a swimmer to this day,” emphasized Payne.

While the team puts in countless hours of hard work–like any great team–Pasquale makes sure his swimmers know that their success is not contingent their placing in a meet. What makes a team successful is each individual’s determination to reach their personal goals, their motivation of their fellow teammates, and their loyalty to the team. At the end of the day, it feels better knowing you tried your best and that there’s a team behind you who will always have your back. A team to help you dust yourself off, and get you back on your feet. A group of people who you have created lasting relationships with. This is the kind of encouraging culture Pasquale has created on the team. “It’s been a privilege getting to coach such great kids over the past ten years,” Pasquale concluded.

You can catch the swim team in action at home on Jan. 5, 10, 19 & 20, and the 25. The SWOC meet will also be held at home in the Miami University Rec Center on Feb. 2, 2019.

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