Big changes are coming to the Portsmouth West High School Swim Team. Head Coach Eric Nichols and Assistant Coach Carolyn Callihan announced their resignation from their coaching positions early last week.
Coach Nichols and Coach Callihan founded the swim program in the fall of 2018 and led the program to success during this time. Coach Nichols started his career at Portsmouth West as the Assistant Principal while also serving as the Athletic Director for the Washington-Nile Local School District.
While Nichols was serving as Athletic Director in 2014, he was approached by the Washington-Nile Local School Board and was asked to research what would be needed to form a swim team. For several reasons, the conversation was tabled until the spring of 2018. When the discussion was revisited, Nichols applied for the position and was hired immediately.
In the beginning, there were ongoing concerns that there would be a lack of interest in the new program. However, there were thirteen swimmers that signed up for the inaugural season. Of the original thirteen members, over half were members of the class of 2021.
In the last two years, the swim program has lost members due to excessively “late practice times.” Assistant Coach Callihan explained that the swim facility at Shawnee State University is shared by all swim teams in Scioto County.
Each of the local teams practices in one-hour blocks all afternoon and evening. With Portsmouth West being the most recent swim team to form in our area, they received the time slot which other teams did not desire.
Due to this, their practices were held at the least preferable time from 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM. Rather than rotating the practice times, each team must maintain the time slot they select for the duration of the swim season.
This has led to a debate that there is a potential lack of equity since younger swim programs consistently receive the time slots which other teams avoid. This greatly affects the number of students who can participate and potentially stunts the growth of these new programs. In Portsmouth West’s case, this tested the perseverance of the students who were eager to participate.
However, if the issue of late practice time is not resolved, there are fears that it may cause the end of the Portsmouth West Swim Program. The loss of this new program would also dissolve the SOC. This means local teams would not be eligible to compete in a SOC meet and would not be recognized for their accomplishments at a local level