With the 2013 summer season in full swing, the time has come for all of the ‘school’s out’ activities to begin. With that being said, the Amity A.C. Blue Marlins are ready to kick things off. Led by head coach Shannon Duff, and a myriad of assistants, including Kyle Schuerger, many kids are chomping at the bit to get the summer swimming season underway.
“This is a big building year for our team,” said Schuerger. “We have 108 swimmers this season, and so many of them just joined our team this year. I’d say about 85% of our team is under the age of 12. We’ve really been focusing on stroke development and getting everyone accustomed to swimming competitively.”
Change is something that happens in any sport, and Schuerger commented that this one is no different. He noted, “We had a great season last year. The Blue Marlins are all about the fun of the sport and building a team that is welcoming to everyone. I’d say the biggest change we’ve had this year is with our coaching staff. We restructured our team from five coaches down to three. It gets a little crazy sometimes with all of our kids, but we stagger their practices and everyone’s always having a good time.”
Schuerger also mentioned that the kids are truly excited about getting used to the idea of being on a summer swim team once again. He said, “We have such a great group of kids this year. Everyone’s really enthusiastic about the season, and we’ve been really successful in getting everyone where they need to be. The new kids, whom we call our ‘Mini’ and ‘Mighty’ Marlins, are doing such an excellent job and have really taken to the sport very quickly. We had our first meet not too long ago, and the coaches were so impressed with how well everyone swam.”
What gets the kids most excited when they’re in the pool is cheering each other on. Schuerger said, “One of my favorite things about being a coach is seeing the kids support each other. They really drive one another to do their best. For every race at our meets, we have huge crowds of swimmers at the end of the pool cheering for their friends. Then, when it’s their turn to swim, they want to give their fellow swimmers something to cheer for. It’s awesome to watch.”
With handling all ages of kids on the team, Schuerger noted that most of them do understand the competitive nature of the sport.
“They know what it means to win, and we explain during practice that if they don’t execute their strokes correctly, they can get disqualified,” said Schuerger. “The major thing we do really stress to our kids is the importance of good sportsmanship. No matter what, you always say ‘good job’ to the people you raced, and when the score is announced at the end of the meet, you cheer no matter what.
“The best partis that it’s not only the coaches who push these ideas. I always see our older and more experienced swimmers telling the newbies how to be good sports. It’s important to them for our team to be known for that.”
For himself as a coach, Schuerger noted that he enjoys seeing relationships bloom between one swimmer and another. “I’m a lifeguard at Amity A.C. as well as a swim coach, so I see my kids both inside and outside of practice, basically all the time, and it’s great to see that so many of the Blue Marlins have become friends outside of swimming. We really are one big family.”
To be successful this summer, Schuerger noted that it’s always measured through fun and personal growth. He said, “If my swimmers can end the season and say they got better at their strokes and had fun doing it, then I know I’ve done my job as a coach.”
Ultimately, Schuerger noted that he would like to make sure that the team continues it’s growth, not only this year, but in years to come as well. He said, “My swimmers are really falling in love with the sport. Now that these first steps are being accomplished this year, I can’t wait to see what next season has in store for the team.”