East Swimming has formula for success
Joe Hutchinson led his team to a third place finish at the 2012 Kansas State Boys Swimming Championship (Photo by Angela Pirner)
Joe Hutchinson is both. The International Baccalaureate Physics teacher at Wichita East High School just also happens to be the boys’ and girls’ swimming coach. If you talk to his parents, students, swimmers – you find that he uses the system-like precision of a scientist to achieve the best possible results in the classroom and the pool. Hutchinson would say that he’s a lucky man to have the opportunity to work with smart and dedicated kids.
“I have the freedom to combine physics and swimming in such a way that, I think, it gets kids thinking about how they can use what they learn in the classroom, if they have something they are passionate about. Every year I get kids from my physics class to give swimming a try and some members of the swimming team to take physics,” said Hutchinson. “I like to win, but even more, I like to see kids learn to enjoy swimming, learning and pushing themselves to see how far they can go.
Hutchinson’s workout plans, which involve the preparation of three or four different daily training plans so that everyone gets the workout appropriate for them, paid off in a big way at the Kansas State Swimming Championship meet last weekend.
A team outside of the Kansas City area has not brought home a team trophy since Wichita Southeast won the team title in 2003. That was a drought that Hutchinson and his team wanted to end – and that they did. The Aces made the podium with a third place finish with 260 points. As expected, two Kansas City area teams took the top spots, Blue Valley North finished second with 272.5 points; and Shawnee Mission East won the meet with a 337 team total.
The third place finish and 12 medals made Hutchinson proud, but he’s quick to talk about the improvement his swimmers made and the strong performances they delivered at the state meet.
“The best measure of success in swimming is how well you do compared to your previous best or the team's best. We set six school records on Friday (out of a possible 11 events) and then re-set five of them again on Saturday. Of all the swims we had during the meet, 83% were season best times and 78% were life-time best times,” said Hutchinson.
It was his systematic approach to state that had Hutchinson confident his team would perform well. In fact, they performed so well in Friday’s preliminaries that the coach said he was a little worried about having the “final blues.” “But as well as we swam on Friday, we were better Saturday,” said Hutchinson.
There were some expected finishes. Jake Spitz reclaimed his 100-yard butterfly state title and added a state championship in the 200-yard individual medley. But Hutchinson is quick to talk about swimmers who did the unexpected.
“Brandon Kingrey in the 200 IM went from 21st to ninth and dropped seven seconds. In the 500 free, Charlie King went from eighth to fourth and BrandonVandeventer from twelfth to sixth,” said Hutchinson.
The coach was also pleased with the performance of Nate Pirner, who entered the 100-yard breaststroke as the sixth seed and moved past top competitors to claim the state championship from the sixth lane.
Pirner also picked up fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and Vandeventer placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle.
“What might have been the most surprising for me, though, was our 200 free relay. Often, two relays will be pretty solid and the third scraping together what we can. I stacked the 200 medley and the 400 free relays and was hoping that this one would get in the top 16. They (the 200 free) ended up sixth and almost setting a school record!” said Coach Hutchinson.
The 200 relay team was made up of Matthew Clough, Andrew Sousa, Kevin Kilgour and Vandeventer. The team clocked in at 1:32.56.
The other two relays were also on the medal stand. The 200-yard medley relay team of Brandson Shinsato, Pirner, Spitz and Sousa placed second in 1:27.69. The 400-yard relay team of Spitz, Shinsato, King and Pirner placed fourth in a time of 3:14.99.
Coach Hutchinson was also pleased with Sousa’s performance in the 100-yard breaststroke. Sousa tied for eighth place in the preliminaries and lost the swim-off, so he was placed in the consultation finals.
“On Saturday, he dropped almost a second and went a time that would have placed him 6th overall,” said Hutchinson.
George Savvides also scored points in the breaststroke with a 13th place finish for East.
The Aces had several other top performances. Those include Shinsato’s second place finish in the backstroke in a time of 53.13. The sophomore also made another trip to the medal stand in the 200-yard IM, to put three from East in the top eight. Kingrey won the consolation finals for ninth place in that event.
Clough also picked up three points for his team with his 14th place finish in the 100-yard butterfly.
Coach Hutchinson is quick to credit the support he receives from the administration as a key to the team’s success. He said the construction of a new pool has made a huge difference. Before this season, the Aces were practicing from 5:30 to 7:00 AM each day.
“While it taught the kids dedication, the morning workouts were limited in length and we really couldn't get a lot of work done because the kids' bodies were not awake yet. Now that we have the pool in the afternoon, I can go for two hours and the workload can be much greater without risking injury,” said Hutchinson.
The coach feels that his team was able to focus more on swimming during practices.
“We had a good talk in the beginning of the season about using the swim practice to get faster, be with friends and to let the stress of the day be left at the door. In the morning, the kids would often be thinking about the upcoming day and all the things that needed to get done. The pool made a big difference!” said the coach.
Hutchinson isn’t one to dwell too long on the accomplishments of the past. He’s already thinking about next year; he’s calculated that returning swimmers actually contributed 256 points of their 260 team point total at state. This isn’t a coach who has to work on the calculations for long – as he’s already found a formula for success.