The Canisius High School swim team captured a 17th consecutive Monsignor Martin league title on February 5th, dominating the competition en route to the championship. Ethan Moeller '14 interviewed Canisius head swim coach Ed Maynard about the success of the team.
Q. What factors have gone into the team's long winning streak, and are there challenges to coaching a team with an extensive record of success?
A. Our current team is no different than the past teams. They have the same drive to excel, the same work ethic, and the mentality that working hard and dedicating yourself to the sport will pay off in the end. While we did lose 14 seniors from last year's extremely successful team, this year's team had a bit of a chip on their shoulder in proving that we are still a force to be reckoned with. Success breeds more success. Older swimmers model the way for new swimmers. There is no class vs. class mentality on the team. There is just one team - one family. In fact, many of our underclassmen rose to the challenge and embraced their role of filling the shoes of the departed seniors. Matthew Woyksnar '22 qualified for states in the 200 freestyle while Max Kruglov '21 qualified in the 200IM. All three relay teams just missed state cuts and were mostly made of underclassmen. Many teams would have crawled into a shell when you lose the talent we did from last year, but not this team.
Another attribute that keeps this team successful is a strong encouragement and commitment to swim with a local swim club in the evenings. Here at Canisius, we are diving in the pool at 6:15 a.m. for practice. Completing high school practice in the morning allows our athletes to swim with a club at night to increase their training workload, build endurance, and continue swimming during the off-season. The most successful swimmers throughout the state and nationally participate in double workout regiments. However, on occasion, this sometimes poses a challenge as club training cycles may not fully correlate to high school training cycles. Communication with the athletes is vital for their success and all clubs just want the best for the swimmers.
Travel meets also play a big role in our success. Swimmers have the opportunity to travel via coach bus and stay in hotels with teammates to compete against some of this region's best competition. Meets such as the Viking Invitational at Cleveland Sate University, Falcon Invitational at the Olympic Training Center in Geneva, Ohio, and the NYC All Catholic Championships in Long Island have prepared our swimmers to race some of the most elite swimming any high school team can face. These meets truly benefit our swimmers when the NYS Championships arise. I believe our swimmers are better prepared for the long grueling meets that decide the state's best. Besides the level of competition, our swimmers grow closer as a team and family when they are on the road and away from home. Lifelong friendships arise and simply draws the team closer together.
Finally, maintaining communication with alumni allows our current swimmers to not feel so pressured to live up to the success of years past. Rather, their support and encouragement helps our swimmer's confidence and gives them the extra push when times are tough. Communication through social media sites such as Twitter has been an outstanding tool to reach former athletes for their encouraging words.
Q. How did you get into coaching?
A. I started swimming in 1976 as a little four-year-old in a very big pool with my father as my coach in the Niagara Swim Club. As the son of the coach, I always felt as though I had to prove myself a little more than everyone else. This instilled a solid work ethic and a drive to always succeed. After my high school swimming career, I attended Bowling Green State University, Ohio, where I played water polo for 4 years. I also competed and coached in the Empire State Games and began coaching under my father in the White Water Swim Club. Upon college graduation, I returned to Niagara Falls High School and became the JV Coach (again with my father) for the boys and girls swim teams at Niagara Falls High School. I became the head coach of all programs upon my father's unexpected passing in 2002. I enjoyed my years at NFHS as was extremely proud of sustaining a successful program within a district with students of high needs and many difficulties.
In 2016, my cousin, Jake Ruffolo '18, asked if I would apply for the head swim coach position at Canisius as Coach Spurlock was stepping. I met with Mr. Mauro (Canisius director of athletics) and felt as though Canisius was a great fit at this point in my coaching career. I met with the upper classmen and immediately noticed they had the same inner drive to excel and succeed as I had when I was swimmer. Upon meeting the remainder of the team, it was clear that all of the student/athletes had those same qualities. It was a perfect fit. They were supportive of each other, encouraged each other, and helped each person succeed at a level they never thought they could get. Each swimmer respected each other, their coaches, and their school. I was also extremely grateful to coach Jake as he finished his career at Canisius as a state champion and All American. I have been so impressed with the school, the student body, and the teachers, that it was an easy decision to bring my own son here and join the Canisius family. Evan '21 is currently a sophomore at Canisius and thoroughly enjoys his Canisius experience and has done very well.
The 2018-19 Canisius High School swim team -- All-Catholic Champions