Entering her second year as head coach of the Bret Harte High School swim team, Katlyn Rugo is of the mind that, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. During her first year as head coach, she set high goals and expectations for her squad and was pleased with the results.
Heading into year two, she’s keeping that same philosophy.
“I learned that if you hold the kids up to really high expectations, then they will probably meet that,” Rugo said before practice. “I have to keep my expectations very high to challenge them and then they’ll do really well.”
Rugo has plenty of swimmers to challenge in 2019. Eighteen girls and 12 boys make up the 30-person squad. While a number of the Bullfrogs swimmers are section championship-quality swimmers, there are still newcomers to the pool who will require extra attention. Rugo knows that working with the younger, less-experienced talent will show results further on.
“The younger swimmers have made the most improvements over the last month,” Rugo said. “It’s a lot about technique and we talk about their body positioning in the water. We will watch videos and do a lot of drills. We talk about the rules of swimming, so they don’t get disqualified in the races. And, just lots and lots of practice.”
While Rugo has a handful of young talent that has yet to win a race, she also has veteran swimmers who she expects to not only win races, but break records. At the top of that list is junior Olivia Lilly. As a sophomore, Lilly broke three school records and holds five total records.
She holds the record in the 200-yard medley (1:58.46); the 200-yard individual medley (2:30.35); the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.84); the 200-yard free relay (1:49.08); and the 100-yard breaststroke (1:12.24).
“I have all new goal sheets this year, so her goals are to break all of her own records again this year,” Rugo said about Lilly. “She’s absolutely capable of doing that. She’s very motivated on her own to do things like that. She is also swimming with some really great swimmers and they are pushing her.”
Like Lilly, senior Leah Jensvold also holds five school records. Along with the 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard free relay, Jensvold holds records in the 50-yard freestyle (26.82); the 100-yard freestyle (1:00.67); and the 400-yard free relay (4:08.80).
With Lilly, Jensvold and the senior duo of Denea Palmer and Katarina Ridel, Rugo is confident that her girls’ team will be able to do some damage. But will it be enough to top Sonora, the defending Mother Lode League champion?
“Sonora has numbers on us and always probably will,” Rugo said. “They can fill all of the events. So, in the events that we are throwing away points, they are raking those in. It’s really hard when you don’t have enough athletes to fill every event. But, I do think it’ll be close; probably even closer than it was last year with the girls.”
Not only does Rugo feel that her girls’ team has improved from last year, but she also feels that way about her boys’ team. Although there haven’t been any Bret Harte boys’ records broken in a while, Rugo thinks that Jeff Morton and Dominic Santella could change that.
While talking about Santella, Rugo said, “He’s a very capable athlete and has a very good chance at breaking some school records.”
Bret Harte has its first home meet at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 15 against Sonora.