Aquahawks coach begins

Zach Devine took over as head coach of the Lawrence Aquahawks Swim Club this week.

“Zach has a passion for swimming that is contagious,” said Ed Sloan, club president. “This passion will create a positive environment for all levels of swimmers.”

Devine, who competed at South Dakota University, had been coach of the Rapid City Racers and a special education teacher at Rapid City Central High.

As a father of three, Devine looks forward to more time with his family, and more time by the pool in his full-time role with the Aquahawks.

“I didn’t get to see much of my kids before,” Devine said. “And I wanted to dedicate all of my time just to swimming. It’s what I love, what I lose sleep over.”

Devine replaces Mike Soderling, who had been with the Aquahawks since 2000. Soderling resigned in September to become head coach of the Topeka Swim Association.

Devine grew up in Columbia, Mo., where he swam for Hickman High and the Columbia Swim Club. In high school, he often competed against the Aquahawks.

“The Aquahawks was a great team back in the 1980s and 1990s, and it still is,” Devine said. “It’s a mainstay in the Missouri Valley.”

Devine, who has helped place swimmers in the Speedo Junior Nationals and the U.S. Open and World Championship Trials, encourages his students to swim for their high school teams.

“High school swimming only lasts three months, but those other nine months make a big difference,” Devine said. “You have to do something with that time. Club is a great way to stay in shape.”

Devine’s first order of business was to meet with the parents and swimmers.

“There’s always a little bit of fear that comes with any change,” he said. “I want to learn about the kids first.”

The Aquahawks will play host to the Midwest All-Star Invitational, a meet he competed in as a prep, on Jan. 16 at the Indoor Aquatic Center.

“Swimming is my drug of choice,” Devine said. “I want to do it all the time.”

Approximately 160 youths compete for the Aquahawks.