A year ago, Cole De Yong won a Southwestern Illinois Swim Association championship in his final year as a member of the Paddlers Pirates diving team.
On Saturday, De Yong will look to win another SWISA championship, this time as a Paddlers coach.
De Yong shares coaching duties with Betsy Hagnauer this summer. They replaced Kevin Harris, who had coached the Pirates since 2008.
“I like to coach,” De Yong said. “I’m kind of tired when I get here in the morning. I come from another job, so I’m up all night working and I come here and just relax.”
Now, De Yong and Hagnauer are hoping the Pirates will come out on top in their first year as head coaches. Last year, Paddlers finished second to Summers-Port by eight points in the SWISA dive championship meet at Summers-Port after winning the league championship the last two years.
The SWISA dive championship meet is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Paddlers Pool. Paddlers, Summers-Port and Sunset Hills are the only diving teams in the league.
Hagnauer said she’s thrilled the three-team SWISA meet is at home this year.
“It will help a lot because if you get used to diving on this board, you’re not going to mess up because you’re used to the board under your feet,” Hagnauer said. “I know the other teams will always be complaining because their board starts up higher so they have to move it back a bunch to try to get their height back, so that will give us an edge, definitely.’’
Last year, De Yong wrapped up his Paddlers diving career by placing first in the 15-18 boys’ division with a score of 232.80 in the SWISA meet at Paddlers Pool. He was one of four Paddlers divers who won league championships.
Hagnauer competed with the Paddlers diving team for seven years before graduating last year. She won a SWISA championship in the 11-12 girls’ division in 2009. Hagnauer finished second in the 15-18 girls’ division at the 2015 SWISA meet.
Hagnauer and De Yong celebrated their first win as Paddlers coaches on June 23, when the Pirates beat Sunset Hills 47-32 in their season opener at Paddlers Pool.
“We’re both relaxed now that the first meet is over and we can get more in the hang of it,” said Hagnauer, who attends Southwestern Illinois College. “Especially going into it, we don’t know what to expect and we didn’t know how to teach all of those little kids because we don’t remember learning everything when we were little. So I think we’re doing OK. All of the kids relate to us really well.”
Paddlers had seven first-place winners against Sunset Hills. The Pirates outscored the Stingrays 23-9 in the age 13-14 and 15-18 divisions.
“I’m pretty happy about the results,” De Yong said. “We didn’t fail any dives, so that’s good.”
The Pirates were scheduled to compete in a dual meet with Summers-Port on Tuesday. The Sharks beat Sunset Hills 43-33 in a dual meet on June 16 at Sunset Hills.
The Pirates return several top divers such as Nate Wilmsmeyer, Aubrey White, Abby Weiss, Richie Moore, Hunter Parker, Jake Klee and Taylor Seilheimer.
“They’re excited to see us and they’re excited to dive and we gained quite a few divers,” Hagnauer said. “We have a lot of more divers than we did last year.”
Seilheimer, who placed first against Sunset Hills in the 15-18 girls’ division, will look to win another SWISA championship on Saturday. Last year, she won a title in the 13-14 girls’ division. She also won a championship in the 8U girls’ division in 2009.
Weiss, Parker and Moore also won SWISA championships last year. Weiss won the 8U girls, Moore came out on top in the 9-10 boys and Parker was first in the 11-12 boys.
Parker, who competes in the 13-14 boys’ division this summer, finished second to Klee in the 15-18 boys’ group against Sunset Hills.
“He’s very determined,” De Yong said. “He did everything and anything we asked him to.”
Hagnauer said she has high hopes for Cade Bobbitt, who placed second in the 11-12 boys’ division against Sunset Hills.
“He had been diving for a few years already,” Hagnauer said. “His mom was afraid that he wasn’t going to be able to dive this year or next year because she didn’t think he was able to learn more. It’s tough to learn harder dives when you get to higher age groups, but he has learned a one and a half (somersault), a reverse and stuff that we thought he wasn’t going to be able to do. He listens really well to us.”
Macie Sparks (13-14 girls), Jack Webb (13-14 boys), Jake Curry (9-10 boys), Manny Segovia (9-10 boys) and Charlie Bremmer (8U boys) are among the other divers on the team. Hagnauer said her team has 22 divers.
“They want to be here, so they all want to try to do new things and they’re strong divers so they can get new stuff going,” Hagnauer said. “I’m happy with the group we have. We have a really good group. I like all of them.”
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