FHS, PV swim teams growing under one coach

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — The Farmington and Piedra Vista swimming teams are going through a bit of a transition.

Kristi Lucero, right, and Colton Grossheim watch over practice of the Farmington and Piedra Vista swim teams on Dec. 22 at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

This season, the two teams are working together more closely after Kristi Lucero was named the coach for the Farmington boys and girls, and the PV boys and girls programs.

The situation is a bit untraditional — with one coach leading two programs — but, for the most part, the transition has gone smoothly. It’s actually something the programs have done in the past, and last season the two teams began to make the move of working together.

“This is what they used to do. There was some, I don’t want to say bad blood, but some rivalry that we were able to put to ease last year,” Lucero said. “Being a small town with only one pool, it makes the most sense for the kids to be together and practice together, and it gives them that healthy competition.”

During the 2012-13 season, Mike Ortiz was in charge of both teams. The following season, Karen McCay took over at PV while Ortiz remained at Farmington for a couple of more seasons.

Last season, Lucero took over the PV teams while Nancy Pinckley led the Farmington boys and girls. After Pinckley left Farmington, the school began a search for a new coach, but ultimately decided to put Lucero in charge of both programs.

“We didn’t have a lot of applicants for the (Farmington) job, and toward the end of the season, they were practicing together. Coach Lucero was working with both groups because she and her assistant, Mr. (Todd) Adams, have a lot of swim knowledge, so we figured we’d keep things going the way we ended the year with,” said Frank Whalen, the athletic director for the Farmington Municipal School District.

Piedra Vista High School senior Sam Christensen practices on Dec. 22 at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

Farmington junior Marshall Magnuson said there were some reservations about having one coach for the crosstown rival programs early on, but as the season has gone on, those concerns have been washed away.

“At first, honestly, it was kind of weird because we are two different teams. We wanted to have our own thing and our own goals, but after a while, we all got used to it, and now it’s kind of fun,” Magnuson said.

Now the biggest issue is the logistics. Everything Lucero had to take on in and out of the pool as the coach of one program has doubled.

Leading two teams means more meals to plan, more hotels to book, more team equipment and clothing orders to place, and twice the number of athletes to take care of when the teams travel for meets, with parents entrusting their child’s safety to the coaching staff.

But the added work and stress of leading both programs has a major payoff, as it has brought the athletes at rival schools closer.

Seeing the other team in the pool at practice has pushed both sides to work harder and has led the two sides to actively cheer for each other at meets against other programs.

Piedra Vista High School sophomore Morgan Miller, center, practices with the PV and Farmington swimming teams on Dec. 22 at the Farmington Aquatic Center.

“I don’t really think of it as being two teams,” PV sophomore Morgan Miller said. “We were swimming together last year, and a lot of us are friends, too, so I don’t see us as being two different teams unless we’re swimming against each other. But with us practicing together every day, I think it pushes us to work harder because we can see our competition in the pool every day.”

While the two programs are often the other’s biggest supporter, when they travel to larger meets around the state, the rivalry between the two programs still exists. They still want to beat the other when they go head to head during dual meets, but ultimately, they know there are more important things than besting their crosstown rival.

“(The rivalry) can be intense sometimes, but honestly it’s still fun, and that’s what high school swimming is about,” Magnuson said. “We’re all having fun out there. It’s fun to race them, but when I’m swimming against a PV person, my only goal isn’t just to beat them. I’m out there having a fun time.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.