A Visit With 2-26 DALE MAGNUSON
Dale Magnuson, 30, is the head coach of the Century boys swimming and diving team that won the Section One, Class AA title on Saturday. This is his first year as head coach of the Panthers. He started coaching in 2000 as an assistant coach on the Mayo girls team. His wife, Megan Magnuson, was the head coach. He took over as the Century girls coach in 2001.
Post-Bulletin: You won a section title as a team and are sending eight swimmers to state. How big an achievement is that for the program?
Magnuson: The section meet on Saturday was absolutely incredible. This meet really showed the emphasis on a team aspect that high school swimming and diving offers. This was a first for Century in swimming and diving and it is always exciting when you can be the first team to do something like this. I am really proud of these guys as they worked very hard all year to get to this point.
Post-Bulletin: You have had a great deal of success recently, but you don’t have a pool at Century. Where does the team train and does that make it harder on the team?
Magnuson: Between not having a pool and the recent law changes about diving, it is very difficult to organize practice times. For the past two years, we have had the swimmers practice at the Mayo pool after Mayo is done with their practice, and the divers practice at the JM pool with the Mayo divers after the JM practice. This makes communication between the swimmers and the divers very difficult, but we manage to work things out as best as possible. Our practice times are between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., which isn’t ideal for the student athletes, but we focus on the fact that even without a pool we are able to have a very successful program.
Post-Bulletin: You have won more than 40 straight dual meets and four straight Big Nine championships. What is the key to having such great team success?
Magnuson: I can’t take credit for the boys’ team successes until this year. Kent Quackenbush has been a great coach for the sport of swimming in this city for many years. He really built the Century boys’ program to where it is now and he helped to get my wife and me into the high school program.
Swimming is a very individual sport, but at the high school and college level the focus is turned more into a team sport. We still focus on individual effort and best times during each event, but I stress to each athlete that we are a team and we do things together as a team. By focusing on the team aspect we use each other to help each other out I tell my teams every year a similar thing which is, "Believe in your coaches, believe in your teammates, and most importantly, believe in yourself."
Post-Bulletin: Swimmers usually have to put in a lot of time in the pool to compete at a high level. How much do your swimmers swim at an average practice?
Magnuson: As a coach, I change my practices every day based on where I feel the team is at. I don’t really focus on yardage, but more on intensity. We have a very high-intensity practice followed by a less intense practice and I try to alternate every other day. Everyone is required to be at six practices per week with three more available in the mornings that are optional. Some practice with their club teams in the morning while others practice with me.
To make a comparison, we put in just over 6,000 yards in a two-hour afternoon practice which is about 3.4 miles in the pool. If a swimmer chooses to also come to a morning practice, that is 1.4 miles, making a total of just under 5 miles a day in the pool.
Post-Bulletin: Every time I talk to one of your swimmers, it seems like they all mention what a great coach you are. What's the key to having a strong coach-athlete relationship at the high school level?
Magnuson: In hearing this question I am honored by the compliment that it gives me. Both Megan and I agree that if we can make a positive impact on a student athlete’s life, in swimming or in general then we have done our jobs. If an athlete walks away from our program and feels that they made the right choice by participating then we feel that we have accomplished our goal. In our opinion the key to success is providing a fun and positive experience that encourages hard work and dedication where each individual learns how to set and reach attainable goals. It is these things that each person can take away and use for the rest of their lives.
— Guy N. Limbeck
Century wins section championship. C4