Dexter Swim & Dive Dynasty How the Dreadnaught Men’s Swim and Dive Team made history by winning their 4th straight D2 title

The incredible, unmatched success of the Dreadnaught men’s swim and dive team seems like an extreme accomplishment from the outside. When the different pieces are pulled apart as to why the Dreads have been so successful, it is not so extraordinary for the Dreads themselves because of their elite work ethic.

In fact, after further interviews, the predominant response was that there was not much difference between this year and the past three years. Of course, Dexter won the state championship each of those years.

After four years straight of State titles, it is evident that something is being done right by the coaching staff. The head coach Michael McHugh has been the head coach for five state title wins (Dexter also won the state championship in 2012). There are a few contributing factors to each win, and this year is no exception.

There have been a few speed bumps along the course of this season. A few inconsistencies have included an unprecedented amount of snow days, limited team depth, and a sickness that the majority of the team seemed to come down with during the daunting deep week.

With 11 days missed due to snow, ice, and a power outage, the team had to make every practice count. This also included making the taper shorter towards the end of the season (taper is the lightening up of high volume practices in order to prepare the body for intense competition).

Deep week is an intense two weeks of training where over 100 total miles are swam.

“We are doing doubles almost every day where we average over five miles of swimming a practice. This year, we swam over 200,000 yards and 123 miles in 23 workouts,” McHugh said.

It is relied upon to peak the swimmers performance with high volume swimming. This deep week was a different story though; almost every single swimmer was sick during deep week. Some top swimmers even missed an entire week.

This had to be made up when the swimmers became healthy and knew the season depended on them getting back into the grind as soon as possible.

McHugh humbly credits the success to the swimmers. While many agree the swimmers are at an elite level for high school, McHugh’s coaching is something special. Combined with the high expectations and swimmers hungry mindset for more state titles, the program truly is something special.

“My coaching style tends to be one of hard work,” McHugh said. “I push my guys to be their best each day and set clear expectations for them.”

From this, it can be gained that the athletes want to compete at a high level because they always strive for the high expectations. The culture of hard work created through a brotherhood like structure in season is the formula needed for this elite team.

Swimmers practice at the school from 5:45 to 7:15 in the morning and then eat breakfast together. After school, the swimmers are practicing yet again from 3:30 to 6:00. The extreme fatigue from four hours of practice a day causes their lives to revolve strictly around swimming and school in order to get enough sleep to function.

Teachers know this and, occasionally, a few will let it slide when an in-season swimmer nods off in class.

The MHSAA final scoring of States showing Dexter as first in the state.

Hard work and consistency molded this team into an unstoppable force for the past four years.

The swimmers are encouraged by McHugh, but their competitiveness is so intense that they push each other to the max in every practice.

“Without their commitment to practice, even when doing things they didn’t want to, the year may have turned out much differently,” McHugh said.

An important aspect of the well-rounded Dreads’ training routine is the use of dryland practices. To swimmers and divers, dryland means just that: practice on dry land, not in the water.

“Every Tuesday you’ll find us there running between 25-50 sets depending on the time of season we are in,” McHugh said. “The work we do on our legs allows us to maintain their strength throughout our taper process, allowing us to finish our races better than other teams.”

Thankfully for McHugh and the Dreads, the year turned out perfectly. Dexter ended the season with a dominant victory over main competition Birmingham Groves in the State Championship, securing the dynasty’s spot for 2019.

Created By
Colin & Casey Strang & DOlen


Casey Dolen

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