Heather Bureau Restores The Love For Swimming At Mitchell High

heather-bureau-mitchell-high-school-swim-coach
Photo Courtesy: Lindsey Smith, The Gazette (Colorado Springs)

By Taylor Byers, Swimming World College Intern.

Swimming is a unique sport; once you find your love for it, it’s hard to get away. Heather Bureau, a current eleventh and twelfth grade English teacher Mitchell High School located in Colorado Springs, is the prime example. Bureau was hired this year at Mitchell High and was asked to re-start the swim program again after its hiatus from 2017 to 2018 due to lack of interest.

Bureau has a history of swimming experience, swimming club from the age of four until 18 and then swimming at California University of Pennsylvania for three years. During college, she had the opportunity to be a camp counselor at The Bolles School, located in Jacksonville, Fla. After college, she was the assistant coach for Derry Area Middle School.

Swimming World had the chance to catch up with Bureau to learn more about the startup of the Mitchell Marauders’ swim team.

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Photo Courtesy: Heather Bureau

Swimming World: What sparked starting up the swim program again?

Bureau: In my interview to teach at the school, the question was asked if I’d be interested/had experience in any coaching or other extracurricular activities. I immediately answered that I had coaching experience in swimming. A few weeks later, I was asked if I was interested in re-starting a program, even if it wasn’t competitive – and naturally I said yes. The athletic director, Al Everett, mentioned to me that we were on the competitive calendar with one meet, and we immediately got to work on how to get other meets scheduled, physicals done for the girls, and getting word out that the swim team was going to be competitive.

SW: What steps did you have to take to start up this program again?

Bureau: It was a lot of talking to the students and getting them excited. I can’t have a team without athletes. I was fortunate enough to walk into a situation where the previous coach still had money in the swim account, so I was able to get suits, caps and other equipment ordered without issues.

SW: How has this program grown so far?

mitchell-high-swim-team

Photo Courtesy: Heather Bureau

Bureau: I think it helps that I teach in the school and that word is going around that I’m the coach. I constantly have students coming up to me and asking if I’m the swim coach. I tell the girls if they can get a physical, they can start immediately. Or if they’re interested in just getting into the water, then I tell them I’m working on getting swimming as an extra curricular. There is also a swim class as a physical education elective, and I remind students of that option as well. I also have a volunteer coach, and she became interested in helping out after she read a past article in The Gazette (Colorado Springs), so the community knowledge is growing as well.

SW: Is there potential for a boy’s team as well as a girl’s team at Mitchell?

Bureau: Mitchell High School had a boy’s team years ago, and I’ve been talking about getting a boys team started in the future.

SW: How have your meets been going?

Bureau: We’ve done a few, and they’ve gone well! We’re still working on learning all of the strokes, but the girls are finally able to control their nerves and get into the competitive spirit.

SW: What has been the most challenging part of re-starting this program?

Bureau: The most challenging thing so far has been getting on other teams’ schedules and getting meets scheduled. By the time I figured out I had enough for a team to actually be competitive, other surrounding schools basically had their schedule for the season finished and were at the meet cap. We have been able to schedule about four meets during the season.

SW: What have you enjoyed most so far?

mitchell-high-girls-swim-team

Photo Courtesy: Heather Bureau

Bureau: At meets, the girls are constantly cheering for everyone in the water. They learned how to read a heat sheet and cheer for everyone in the water. It is so empowering to see a small group of girls cheering for everyone and being so encouraging and positive, no matter the outcome of the race.

SW: What are your goals for Mitchell High’s team this year?

Bureau: My goals would have to be for the girls to have a really strong finish and continue to get faster in the water. Our season is over February 1 after our league meet, and every time they race, they’re continuously improving.

SW: What are your goals for this program in the years to come?

Bureau: To continue to build a program and reach a level where we’re competitive with other schools. There are only five girls that are on the team and racing. I would like the number of girls on the team to continue to grow.

SW: How do you plan on growing this program?

Bureau: My plans for post-season and pre-season are to run captain’s practices and open it up to the school as an extracurricular club. It wouldn’t be all lap swimming, but getting both girls and boys comfortable in the water playing games, having fun and getting outside their comfort zone.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.