Picayune swimming to rebuild with new coach

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 2, 2019

Each sporting program has its own identity and culture, which is usually a reflection of the coach.

For Rachael Rutherford, who is the new head coach of Picayune’s swimming team, that’s what is so exciting about taking over the program she was a part of as a teenager.

“The hard challenge is going to be building the program back up,” Rutherford said.

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“I’m really excited though because I love swimming and the type of sport it is.”

Going into her first year as the coach means that she’s building her vision of the program from the ground up.

“I want it to be a home for sportsmanship and build a solid foundation,” Rutherford said.

An aspect of the sport Rutherford enjoys is the uniqueness of the experience.

There are both individualistic events and team competitions as well, a situation Rutherford said many other sports can’t replicate.

“What’s really cool is each swimmer has their strong points,” Rutherford said.

“I’m cultivating each athlete to work on their strengths, and then with relays it becomes a team sport.”

Additionally, the ease in which people can join the program and learn the sport allows for an uncommon opportunity for athletes as well.

“The great thing is you’ll never lose it,” Rutherford said.

“It’s not going to hurt your body like every other sport, it’s a longevity sport.”

Swimming also allows for moments of introspection as athletes spend hours in the pool with their head submerged.

“It creates a strong sense of purpose and they find their own identity,” Rutherford said.

“It gives teenagers a safe place to escape to, and allows them to learn how to process things.”

Heading into the season Rutherford doesn’t necessarily have the program at the size she wants it to be.

There are some unknowns when it comes to how many athletes will participate, and because of that she and members of the booster club are trying to do everything in their power to drum up interest.

She’s also opening up her program to any swimmers interested who have been a part of the summer swim league, or who are currently attending Picayune Junior High.

Due to the way she’s scheduled the workouts, even if a middle schooler or high schooler doesn’t have swim chosen as a class, they can still participate in the morning workouts.

Rutherford hopes that with time the athletic programs within the school will continue to increase support for one another.

“I want all the sports to start holding each other’s backs up,” Rutherford said.

“We need to realize we’re in it together for the same reason.”

That support would help contribute to the development of the swim program.

Rutherford thinks Picayune swimming is on the cusp of greatness, it’ll just take a little bit of time before the team gets there.

“We have the swimmers, the lifestyle, the athletes, the talent, we just have to cultivate it,” Rutherford said.