MAC gearing up for new season despite traveling inconvenienceFor the Mitchell Aquatic Club, traveling to Huron for practice three times a week due to the closure of the Mitchell Middle School pool is an obvious inconvenience. But for the club’s four seniors, MAC coach Chuck Baechler hopes the long trip and reduced practice time isn’t also a hindrance. All four senior swimmers are in pursuit of college scholarships, and Baechler is doing whatever he can to make sure the pool closure doesn’t get in their way.
By: Matt Bunke, The Daily Republic
For the Mitchell Aquatic Club, traveling to Huron for practice three times a week due to the closure of the Mitchell Middle School pool is an obvious inconvenience.
But for the club’s four seniors, MAC coach Chuck Baechler hopes the long trip and reduced practice time isn’t also a hindrance.
All four senior swimmers are in pursuit of college scholarships, and Baechler is doing whatever he can to make sure the pool closure doesn’t get in their way.
“I can’t honestly say it’s been a hindrance to them, but I can say I’ve spent more time on the phone with college coaches explaining what’s going on and why their performance and rate of improvement is not at the same level as in the past,” Baechler said. “I’m not making excuses, but I am providing an explanation.”
Baechler said as many 40 schools have been in pursuit of senior Josh Davis, and the same could be said of Andee Budahl before she committed to South Dakota State. Baechler also said he’s confident that despite the inconvenient practice schedule, seniors Mitchell Baye and Reid Determan will also earn college scholarships.
“Different kids have been affected in different ways,” Baechler said. “Hopefully, with the progress we’ve made toward getting our temporary pool up and running, we’ll still have plenty of time for the kids to put together a good season and get ready for sectionals. It’s going to be a more complicated season, but we can still have success at the level we’ve enjoyed before.”
Baechler said most college coaches have been understanding of the challenges faced by the Mitchell swimmers. Most, he added, have been impressed with their success despite their challenges.
And, if a college coach would choose to hold those challenges against Mitchell’s swimmers, Beachler said he “probably wouldn’t want his kids to be part of a program like that, anyway.”
Baechler said he expects his seniors to be strong leaders this year, as well as a talented crop of juniors. But, as has been the case in recent years, Mitchell will also have a large group of younger swimmers, including many new ones who joined a program that didn’t even have a pool at the time. Those new swimmers are important additions for a program that faced a good deal of uncertainty over much of the last year.
“We actually added swimmers just based on the success the team has had,” Baechler said of his team, which has consistently been finishing in the top three in the state in recent seasons. “I’m extremely upbeat with the prospects for the future. Once we have control of our schedule and access to our pool, our team has a lot of room to grow.”
Mitchell has 83 kids in the program this season, which Baechler said is close to an all-time high. Two years ago, Baechler said that number was approaching 100, but that included the youngest swimmers in the Minnows program, which has since been eliminated.
Baechler said much of the program’s growing popularity is likely due to the success many of his swimmers are having at the collegiate levels. Katie Budahl is enjoying a record-breaking career at South Dakota State and Kyle Margheim recently finished his career at Southwest Missouri State.
Shea Patrick is now excelling in his freshman year at SDSU, Cody Horton is having a nice freshman year at South Dakota and Amelia Ladd is doing the same at Luther College. That type of success is likely fueling interest in Mitchell’s program.
“We really have some great new families joining the team and some very good young swimmers developing,” Baechler said. “We just seem to be adding kids. As the success of the team grows … our kids see that kind of success, even beyond our own program, and I really think word is getting around in the community.”