Swim time in spring for Saddleback

Swimmers stand by the pool after practice Trevor Speetzen | Lariat

Coach Jennifer Rohles talks about the differences in coaching men and women’s swimming

Standing on the pool deck with her notes in her hand, Jennifer Rohles, head coach of the men and women’s swimming and diving team for Saddleback, discusses the current swim season and the primary difference between coaching the women’s team and the men’s team.

 The Saddleback men and women’s swimming and diving team began their season on Feb. 25 at the Golden West Invitational with the women finishing 7th and the men’s team finishing 4th. They most recently competed at the Orange Empire Conference meet at Riverside City College on March 25 with the women placing 4th and the men 3rd. Rohles has high hopes for the women’s team.

 “They’re doing really well,” Rohles says. “Women get a lot of pressure either within the family or within themselves.”

Rohles mentions that women athletes usually don’t get the same support system as the men’s team. The male athlete’s families tend to be outright supportive of their athletic careers while the families of female athletes tend to put a lot of pressure on them to move on from athletics and think about a career.

 “That’s always been a struggle on getting girls here,” Rohles says. “Then COVID hits and a lot of the women they end up helping with their family or helping siblings.”

 When the COVID epidemic happened, many of the female swimmers had to quit the team to help out at home. Rohles says she only had three to five girls on her team last year, but then mentions that it has since jumped up to nine girls this season. Next year, she hopes they’ll be back to the normal number of 16 to 18 swimmers.

 Rohles emphasizes that she is not implying the men’s team don’t go through the same kind of pressure as well. She notes that the men also put a lot of pressure on themselves to try and help out at home during troubling times. She just mentions that the men have less pressure to help out at home when compared to the women’s team.

 “The men do it as well,” Rohles says. “I’m not saying that they don’t just there’s a lot less pressure for the men to help as much at home.”

Rohles goes on to mention how well both the men and women’s teams are feeling right now. Their main focus right now is how to perform well for the conference championships. She wants her swimmers to get their best times at these meets to hopefully break the top 16 in the state.

Rohles says her team was excited for the Riverside swim meet because of the opportunity to try new events at this most recent swim meet.

“We have a couple events with the 200 butterfly stroke and 200 breaststroke,” Rohles says. “We haven’t done those in the last 30 years of swimming here so they have a chance of getting on the top 50 record board.”

 Rohles shares the same excitement with her team about breaking records and trying new events at different meets. She makes it clear that the team’s main focus, both the men and the women, should save their hard work and training for the conference championship meets.

 She continues to talk about how excited and persistent that her group of swimmers are, especially the female athletes. They’re figuring out how to have fun in the pool and it’s no coincidence that a lot of these kids are excited about being at the pool and beginning to get personal records for themselves.

 “They’re learning how to enjoy swimming,”Rohles says. “ Sometimes in high school there is so much pressure to swim faster and faster, but our entire coaching staff, we don’t put that pressure on them.”

 Rohles confidence in her team is the reason she doesn’t put any added pressure on them. She knows that they’re going to swim faster because of the intense training they do.

 She wants her swimmers, the men and the women, to learn how to enjoy swimming and be excited when they get to the pool. She believes that if they enjoy themselves then they’ll have more motivation to train harder and more motivation to perform better.

 “Their confidence level is pretty good right now,” Rohles says. “They won’t really be aware of how fast they can really be until the very end and they’re always very excited.”

 Rohles says that every year the kids never knew they could have the ability to increase their performance in the pool. She knew that they reach and exceed their potential because of their dedication to their training.