by Jack January
After three years away, Coach Paul Winkeler has made a triumphant return to the Rockhurst Swim and Dive program. Winkeler has established a name for himself as a Missouri swim coach. Between 2004-2015 the Swim and Dive team earned 11 consecutive state championships. Winkeler sat down with The Prep News to share some thoughts about returning to the Swim and Dive program.
Q: “You were offered the opportunity to come back was there any hesitation towards coming back?”
A: Winkeler : “Not at all. My children are now older and I’m more involved in all their activities, so it’s just simply a matter of my wife and I figuring out how we’re going to balance everything. But no, this program is something that I was fortunate enough to be a part of when it was built into what it is today, so it’s something very very special to me”
Q: “After returning, has there been any second guessing?
A: Winkeler: “Oh absolutely not. Oh heavens no. No not all.”
Q: “From what you’ve seen so far, has team dynamic changed at all?”
A: Winkeler: “No. In fact, that’s been one of the wonderful parts of coming back is seeing how close knit everybody still is. The team has changed in some ways, but you would expect that because there are different people involved in the program. But one thing that has not changed is the team chemistry and it is a very tight knit team.”
Q: “Has it been difficult to meet 35 new swimmers and get to know them in and out of the water?”
A: Winkeler: “It’s actually been a joy. It has been a challenge, but it’s also been a joy. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone and getting to know everybody a lot better, but at the same time, you know, I knew everything about every kid so it is a little daunting to walk on the pool deck and not really know anymore.”
Q: “What makes a team that wins 11 state championships?”
A: Winkeler: “Love, passion, desire to accomplish something that is bigger than yourself, and determination to accomplish your goals.”
Q: “What do you want the distinguishing factor to be between a Rockhurst swimmer and another school’s swimmer?”
A: Winkeler: “I think a Rockhurst athlete in this program, swimmer or diver, needs to understand and fully embody that this is not about them, and it’s more than just about swimming and diving. This is about the team, it’s about being a man for others to those that you train with on a daily basis, and that it is a lifelong commitment in a program, and that you’re apart of this program forever. But it’s also about your formation as a young man in our community, as a Christian, and as a somebody that our world should be able to count on someday.”