Swim Coaches Inspire New Swimmers

Kai Lopez, Reporter

Valley’s swim coaches Ryan Max Ocampo and Joshua Walters both share one goal: to create an environment open to an array of diverse characters of varying levels.

Ocampo teaches English 10 and has spent a large portion of his life in the pool, starting to swim competitively in high school. Walters teaches Physical Science, Chemistry, and MSTEM, and he coaches to “end his day on a high note.”

Swim coaches Joshua Walters (right) and Ryan Max Ocampo (left) in their “swim sweats” also known as cargo shorts while holding Mario mushroom mugs. (Provided by Ryan Max Ocampo)

“I chose to coach swim for two big reasons: 1) The co-coach is awesome. He is a super wonderful dude that had similar alignments with how I view school athletics. Both of us are focused on our athletes improving and making each practice the best version of them; we are not hyper-focused on wins,” Walters said. “2) It was something different compared to typical team sports offered at high school. Swim can be just as competitive as other sports, but with it having less eyes on it as compared to football or basketball, we are allowed to be more ourselves and allow various levels of swimmers to be a part of the team.”

Unlike other high school competitive sports, swim teams compete in various types of events structured similarly to college level competitions. The points gathered after every event are then added together to determine the teams’ score.

“Swim is the one sport in high school that I had direct experience with as a former swimmer myself. I also find it a unique challenge to coach since not everyone knows how to swim,” Ocampo said. “I have a variety of swimmers, from those who have never learned or are afraid of water to those who are born naturals or have been swimming all their lives. It gathers a fun and varied group of athletes that I genuinely enjoy working with.”

With his own experience at hand, co-coach Ocampo tries to have the same type of positive influence on others.

“Being a part of my own high school swim team was a very impactful experience for me,” Ocampo said, “I was inspired by the lessons my swim coach taught me and the attitude he taught me to have towards hard work, commitment, and dedication. I wanted to be able to have that same influence and provide a similar opportunity to students here at Valley High School.”

Both coaches emphasize that anyone can swim if they put in the effort.

“I try to inspire my student athletes by showing them that anyone can do [swim] if they try,” Walters said. “I use a lot of humor and dad jokes to keep the mood light, but I also use the dad approach when I need things to be serious and to get tasks done.”

As time progresses and Covid restrictions are slowly being lifted or changed, the goal for the season is different from those in previous years.

“Our focus for the season is to finish with all athletes competing in a meet/competition due to the shortened season and all the restrictions that have popped up,” Walters said.

Being open to all environments and levels of experience, anybody interested in joining has the opportunity to apply.

“If you are a student looking for a challenge and can ensure that you will conduct yourself well and put in your all, I highly recommend trying for our Swim and Dive program,” Ocampo said. “We will do our best to make you a proud representation of our school swim team.”