New Euless Trinity swim coach Richard Campanaro has, by his own admission, a small team. However, he’s relying on quality, not quantity, for success.
Campanaro has 24 swimmers on the team. Three freshmen joined this year, along one sophomore who swam club previously but wanted to get some extra conditioning in.
Two other boys who previously left the team have also returned, he said.
“Outside of graduates, whom I didn’t know since this is my first year, everyone is back,” he said.
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Top returners for the Trojans include senior Riley Buhrow, who set the school record in the 200-meter individual medley last season (2:00.73), winning district in that event. He is also team captain for a third year and is in his fourth season on the team.
“We decided to focus more on his 100 free and 100 breast this season,” Campanaro said.
Sophomore Ryan Powell, also a regional qualifier, returns as a “powerhouse distance swimmer,” Campanaro said.
“Gorgeous stroke, great technique and really responsive to instruction. You can tell he wants to learn and improve.”
Campanaro said junior regional qualifier Tiffani Tanaka, whose specialties are the 200 IM and 500 freestyle, “cuts through the water like an arrow. She is probably the most balanced swimmer on the team. She has a ton of energy and enthusiasm.”
And Campanaro calls senior regional qualifier Kenzie Crews the heart and soul of the team. She is strong in the 50 and 100 free, and she is an International Baccalaureate student with top marks.
“Nobody is more positive and encouraging than Kenzie,” he said. “Mom is an elementary school teacher; Dad is a minister of his church. She embodies what makes a great leader.”
Other underclassmen regional qualifiers from last season include senior Scott Painter and sophomore Jackson Adcox.
Among the top newcomers are freshman Katrina Tobias and freshman Mikayla Todd, who is coming off a shoulder injury, Campanaro said.
“I call her ‘The Minnow,’ ” Campanaro said of the 4-10 Tobias, who is strong in the breaststroke and butterfly. “Fantastic technique and so fast. She slips through the water like a greased sardine.”
Of Todd, Campanaro said she “has real potential to shave some serious time this year. We will watch her progress now that the pain is pretty much all gone, and we have tweaked her stroke to take some of the stress off her rotator cuffs.”
Campanaro said he has implemented a weight-training routine to emphasize back strength. He said it is paying off, along with the little tweaks, with the goal being to develop shoulders and core strength.
“It’ll take time but it’s already paying dividends with the whole team, especially those who are coming to afternoon weight training in addition to our longer Friday routine,” he said, adding of Todd, “We are easing her into events. Endurance is an issue since she’s been out of the water for so long.”
Campanaro said Todd recently swam the 200 free in a meet and he was pleased with her performance.
“There’s been progress, lots of times dropping,” Buhrow said. “It’s really nice to see those younger swimmers dropping their times.”
As for District 5-6A, Campanaro said it is “ridiculously competitive.” The league also includes Hurst L.D. Bell Bell, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Lewisville Hebron, Flower Mound Marcus and Southlake Carroll.
Carroll has won five consecutive state championships, including last season’s boys title.
“We are about half the size of most squads, so competing head to head for overall points isn’t our goal this year,” Campanaro said. “We will build our numbers up with time, though, I know that many of the swimmers and myself enjoy the smaller team.
“I continually stress that the true race is in your head. We are swimming against the shadow of the person we used to be. As long as we beat that person, we will have found success.”
Buhrow said he is proud of his team for overcoming the lack of a facility in which to practice. He noted that several years ago the Trinity swim center was shut down and the team has to go to Tarrant County College to practice.
“Since we lost the pool we’ve been trying to get into a more stable condition,” he said. “We’re getting there. It’s a learning process.”
Buhrow added that although Trinity pays for use of the pool, they have to swim at the time TCC allows.
Campanaro said he has an open-door policy for his team. Anyone who wants to be a part is welcome to try out at any time.
“The only prerequisite is that they want to put in the work and commit to achieve any goal they set,” he said. “I have swimmers who never stepped foot in a pool barely finish 50 yards [at first] completing 3,500 a day now. We celebrate the little victories every day.
“Don’t get the wrong idea. They are pushed. I don’t subscribe to the ‘everyone gets a medal’ philosophy. They have to work hard everyday and practice as they want to race if they expect to get better. But a pat on the back or a simple ‘good job’ can mean the world to a kid who is exhausted and wants to know their hard work is paying off.”