Longtime team director Larry Smucker won’t be poolside after three-plus decades of walking that beat. The longtime coach suffered a stroke last September and, while he is recovering nicely at his Florida home, Smucker won’t be resuming his duties in Wooster this summer.
As a result, there will be some changes as the Whales moved from their month-long preseason into its early morning workouts, said longtime P&R coach Chris Matthew, who is head coach of the Wooster High girls swim team. The College of Wooster men’s and women’s coach, Rob Harrington, will be taking over as the Freedlander Meet director, while Jeff Collins will be handling the paperwork and is the safety director.
“Jeff is doing all the paperwork duties Larry did, all the meet entries and is the contact person,” said Matthew. “What Larry did was coach the novice swimmers, but he did so much of the administrative work. He did so much of that and we knew that. Rob and I would joke with Larry over the last five years, ‘Don’t you retire! Don’t stop! We don’t want to work that hard!’
“We’ve delegated the duties out and hired two new coaches. Becky McMichael is working with the novice swimmers and Bill Raines, who actually runs the Loudonville Swim Team, is coaching. He’s a TI guy who works out of his home and he’s the coach of the Loudonville swim team, but they swim at night, so he’s a real catch for us.
“There’s four of us coaching and Jeff is doing all of the administrative stuff. Rob is a professional swim coach and Jeff can’t be there in the morning, so this works out great. Jeff is also the liaison between the YMCA’s winter program and our summer program, so he connects the clubs. He does the entries for the Y as well. I think this will work out and we’ll be able to carry on the tradition Larry has helped establish and make him proud.”
The other change this summer comes with the leagues Wooster has been affiliated with for years.
“We’ve been members of two leagues, the MOSL (Mid-Ohio Swim League) and the ECSL (East Central Swim League), and we are no longer doing the ECSL,” said Matthew. “We’ve added Orrville to the MOSL (from the ECSL) and the other two teams in the ECSL are Salem and Alliance, so it was a small league. The MOSL is a little bigger now and we’re going to swim only one night a week (Wednesdays) instead of two. We’ll make it so the novice kids have separate heats.
“That’s the only real change. We’re going to keep the same times and the same events,” she added. “Very little else has changed. I think things will work out fine. We just want to carry on Larry’s tradition.”
The MOSL season opens June 13 at 6 p.m. against Orrville and Coshocton at Freedlander.
Published: May 31, 2012