RSST, WAVES, middle/high school teams all enjoy success

By HARLEY TOMLINSON

Brett Weilbaker (second from left) has helped transform the summer swim team, WAVES swim club and the high school swim teams into strong programs since coming to Rensselaer several years ago.

The gargling of the gutters, the splashing of the water, the ripples in the waves and the tearing sound of bodies entering the water. These are the sounds that Brett Weilbaker is all too familiar with. In fact, he may hear these sounds more than he hears his own thoughts.

“Yeah, it gets daunting sometimes because I am here all the time and I have to deal with everybody’s issues, which is okay, but their issues then become my issues,” said Weilbaker, who coaches Rensselaer Central’s boys’ swim team as well as coach youth winter and summer league teams.

“It’s hard when I feel like no one is helping me out. I am here all the time for them. But it’s almost like I am trying to push a boulder up a mountain, and only a few people are helping me but many are pushing against me.”

Ever since he’s come to Rensselaer, Weilbaker has made an impact on the swimming community. He first came to Rensselaer as the head boys’ coach when Rensselaer still had a branch team of the Boilermaker Aquatics Swim Club of West Lafayette. Once Rensselaer detached from the BASC, Weilbaker and a few others formed the WAVES Swim Club, which competes in the winter.

It was not an easy change for swimmers since Weilbaker has grown up around a very competitive USA swimming background. To others, his coaching, his ways and his attitude were extreme, but for him, it was normal. It was what he grew up with during his time not only as a swimmer for Harrison High School, but also a member of Boilermaker Aquatics Swim Club.

“I am one of the few swimmers that has been with Brett since BA (Boiler Aquatics) was started in Rensselaer,” junior swimmer Kennedy Minter said. “Through his influence I have become a better swimmer, teammate and competitor. He has helped me see why hard work and good work ethic are so important in helping to reach my goals.”

Weilbaker could also be known as the ruler of Rensselaer swimming, considering the fact that he’s head coach of the summer swim team, middle school team, high school team and his club team, the WAVES Swim Club, all at the same time. The only aquatic position Weilbaker doesn’t hold is pool director.

Ruler of Rensselaer swimming is a title that holds power, that on the surface, would seem incredible, but for Weilbaker, it’s a lot more daunting work then he would like to admit.

“You have to give up pretty much all your time to be here,” Weilbaker said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have all that power over a program, but during high school/middle school season, I start my day with practice at 8 in the morning and ended my day with coaching 8 at night.”

The Lafayette native admitted that one of the hardest things he had to do was give up the middle school position. It was a hard decision that had to be made, but it was in his best interest and health.

The hardest part was not eliminating the title as coach, Weilbaker said, but he was concerned about letting the kids down after watching the program rise to the top. Under Weilbaker’s guidance, the team never lost a dual meet in four years.

“Brett’s coaching style is based on getting to know his athletes individually and then pushing them to new heights,” Monticello Strokers swim coach Adam Current said.

Current coached with and under Weilbaker during his time at Rensselaer. Before moving on to coaching Rensselaer’s rivals, the Monticello Strokers Swim Team, Current was once an RSST age group coach himself ….. a position, where he got to see first-hand just how big of an impact Weilbaker had on his athletes.

“Brett’s strength for RSST is making 100-plus members come together into one team,” Current continued. “With a group spanning ages 5-19, people don’t realize what a feat that is.”

Weilbaker’s coaching accolades are impressive to say the least. He is helping the Summer Swim Team go after its fifth Prairie State Swim League Championship title on June 30 in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where they will go head-to-head, against Current and his new Strokers team.

“I think that it is great that we are going after our fifth conference title,” senior swimmer Daphne Dobson said. “I believe that if Brett wasn’t our coach the swim program wouldn’t be as good as it is today. Brett has taught me to work hard and to never give up because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and without his coaching I would have never gotten this far in my swim career.”

If a fifth-year Prairie State Swim League title wasn’t impressive enough, Weilbaker also helped two of Rensselaer’s younger athletes become state-meet swimmers while coaching the WAVES team.

Two state swimmers is a sign of improvement and success for the WAVES program and the summer team is already a success story. Rensselaer swimming is on the rise, and under the guidance of Weilbaker, it shows no signs of slowing down.