The captains of the Red Wing boys' swimming and diving team have high expectations. And with new head coach Mikayla Beuch in the mix this winter, the Winger boys wanted to make sure they were all on the same page.
"We got into it really early," said senior William Meacham. "Us captains went to her early and said what are the expectations, this is our expectations, this is our traditions and we're going to respect what you'll teach us."
Having a new perspective has proven to be beneficial to the veteran Red Wing team through the first two weeks of practice while heading into the first meet of the year Thursday at Faribault.
"Mikayla's bringing a lot of new stuff to the table and that's good for us older swimmers to learn," Meacham said. "It's good to have different looks at it."
Junior Jayden Jech added, "She's very open to everyone's opinions and eager to learn more about our program. She's excited to learn those new things and she's working her hardest."
Early on, the Wingers have been working on drills and developing strokes to help some of the new faces in the pool. But, there is plenty of veteran leadership around to pick up where the team left off a year ago.
"We got a nice-sized team this year and a lot of hard workers," Beuch said. "The great thing about the boys team is they are pretty seasoned and they know how to work with each other. We know the pros and cons. We've been tackling weaknesses since day one."
Meacham returns as the team's top swimmer as he looks to win the Class A state title in the 100-yard butterfly after placing second a year ago. He is the prohibitive favorite as the only competitor from last year's butterfly finals who did not graduate.
"I'm hoping for some competition. I do well under pressure," Meacham said. "When I'm not swimming against anybody, that's when my time starts getting a little higher because I don't have anything pushing me. If there's nobody to push you, you're going to stay where you're at. That's not how I want to be. I want to be better than last year."
Beuch added, "Meachem is a powerhouse and a team player. He's someone that said right away, 'I can do these individuals, but if we need me to go on relays to help the team more, I'll do that.' He's a powerful swimmer, but I think we'll stick to what he's excelled in previously. We're going to fine-tune some things and make him a sound swimmer overall."
The team also returns the top backstroker, Ian Johnson, and freestyle swimmer Jech from last year. From the 200 medley relay team that placed fifth at state, only Ben Schaffer will have to be replaced in the breaststroke.
"People are working hard to fill that spot we need," Jech said of the relay team.
The main pieces appear to be in place for Red Wing. Now, it's a matter of where to strengthen the rest of the lineup.
"We got a great spread. It's going to be a matter of where else we can split up the new swimmers," Beuch said. "It's a matter of where we can put them to maximize our team."