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Dick Hannula coaches for a day
POULSBO — He coached high school swimming for more than 30 years. Formed a swimming club which took competitors to the national level. Served on the Olympic and International Committees and coached for the U.S. National swim team.
On Tuesday, Dick Hannula added another notch in his history of coaching; running drills and working on technique with the North Kitsap and Kingston high school girls swim teams.
Included in Hannula’s coaching experience: helping the men’s swim team from Wilson High School in Tacoma win gold at state 24 years straight with 323 consecutive wins.
Though retired, he still volunteers off and on. Does he still enjoy it?
“Oh, heck yeah, I still enjoy it,” Hannula said Tuesday evening outside the North Kitsap Community Pool.
North Kitsap and KHS girls came together Tuesday for instruction under the veteran coach.
Though enhancing technique was the focus, there was an underlying lesson of attitude and personal goals. Hannula said in order to be successful at the sport of swimming, each person needs a positive personal attitude — raising and meeting goals — and team attitude, where everyone is working together and willing to put in the same effort.
“Slower kids have to get better and push the faster kids, and the faster kids have to push the fastest kids,” he said. “It’s the way it’s gotta work.”
Hannula coached the U.S. National Swim Team to the Pan American Games in 1975. Hannula went to six Olympic: three times with the national swim team (1979, 1984 and 1988), twice as staff and once as a spectator. He also was chosen for the National High School Swim Coach of the Year in 1980 and was the commissioner for the Goodwill Games in 1990.
North’s state swimmer Bethany Aban helped demonstrate proper technique as Hannula instructed from the edge of the pool. She admits she was getting tired, having to demonstrate in front of both teams and then do the drills again with the team, but it wasn’t for nothing.
Aban, a senior and team captain, wants to make her last season with the team count. She plans to do this by placing in the top eight at the state competition. Having Hannula coach her may give her that edge.
“I’m going to take into account everything he taught me with the breaststroke,” she said. The breaststroke is how she plans to make it to the top eight in state.
North’s other two captains, juniors Nerissa Lemon and Sarah Pearson, said what they learned from Hannula on Tuesday will help them both personally and as team leaders.
“I’m less experienced than the other two captains,” Pearson said. “But I really enjoyed the critique, which is something that will help me in the long run.”
Greg Braun, North’s head coach, and Laura Tetrick, Kingston’s head coach, said the visit was beneficial. This was especially true when it comes to attitude and how much work individuals are willing to put in the pool.
Braun said some of the drills are standard for the swim teams. Now that an Olympic national coach has told the high school swimmers to work on the same drills, it may have validated what the two coaches are trying to accomplish, he said.
“Now that it’s coming from such a high level of coach, (the swimmers) will be like ‘Oh, yeah, Braun has us do this,’ ” he said.
It’s not every day Hannula spares his time to volunteer at a pool. Norene Hanson-Reeves, assistant coach for North, knows Hannula outside of the pool. Reeves was able to encourage Hannula to make the visit for the day.
Hannula coached all three of Reeves’ children, Jeffery, Mikal and Ingrid.
Ingrid Reeves, who swam under six or seven different coaches, said Hannula draws respect by the way he treats people. Ingrid swam with an injured shoulder for years. Though many coaches didn’t believe her or told her to swim it off, Hannula actively remedied the injury and got her to use her legs more — she was typically an upper-body swimmer.
Hannula continues to coach at the club level, which is typically junior high and high school ages. He recently contributed to the second volume of “The Swim Coaching Bible,” and has a chapter in the first. He is also author of “Coaching Swimming Successfully.”
Hannula said he never set out to be a coach. There just so happened to be a coaching position when he became a teacher.
Coming back to coach high school swimmers for a day ... “It’s an eye opener,” he said. “There’s some good potential out here if they work at it and apply themselves.”