Swimming and diving team places fourth at state


The swimming and diving team recently finished fourth at state, and won its first 50 yard freestyle championship in the school’s history. According to Doug Lillydahl, head coach of the team, the team worked hard, enjoyed what they were doing and supported each other to get to that point.

“I’ve coached teams that went far before, but most of those teams have had leadership brought by seniors and juniors,” Lillydahl said. “This team was different. I couldn’t rely on as much leadership from the upperclassmen at the final meets because they hadn’t been to the final meets. But they were able to overcome that by bringing a youthful enthusiasm.”

Danny Less ’18, a diver for Stevenson, said that what helped the finalists get to state was both in-season and out-of-season devotion and the mindset to grow. Having as many people as they did on the team made it feel like a family to Less.

“Being on this team means that I’m part of something bigger,” Less said. “It’s the biggest team I’ve been on, and the support from one another and our peers help as well.”

Less added that the support helped the team win all the trophies they have, as well as get along better with each other.

The swimming program has taken off since Lillydahl has joined, and his coaching style has helped revamp the program.

“Most coaches keep teaching the same way once they find one that works,” Lillydahl said. “But I’ve always been interested in bringing in new ideas and techniques to training. I’m always looking for new angles to do better and grow faster.”

Lillydahl describes his coaching style as one that pushes the swimmers to take control of as much of their improvement as possible. He does this as a way of holding the swimmers accountable and making sure they are not always relying on him.

“Coach Lillydahl brings an optimism to the team and switches up the routine to keep the swimmers on their toes in case he needs them,” Less said. “Most coaches either yell or throw you into the deep end, but Coach Lillydahl is with you every step of the way.”

Lillydahl took a break from coaching for twelve years when he taught in Germany, but decided to come back to Stevenson when the opportunity arose. He said Germany was very different from the U.S. because of its worldly children, use of public transportation, and living in apartments.

“Taking a break from coaching was mainly based on where my family was at the time,” Lillydahl said.

He looks at the team as a program, and wants it to be able to compete with the top teams in the state. With as many finalists in state as they have, that time is close.

“Two of our seven qualifiers for state are graduating, but five of them return, plus a bunch who were almost there,” Lillydahl said. “Our goal of getting to be a perennial contender is almost here.”