Blasczyk aims for stability and growth for Detroit Lakes boys swimming and diving

What started as a way to volunteer for a few students turned into a comeback to the pool for new head coach Will Blasczyk.

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Micah Barberg swims a freestyle race on Dec. 21, 2021. at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center during the Lakers' home-opening meet. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Will Blasczyk is an English teacher at Detroit Lakes high school. In the fall, he had a couple of girls on the swimming and diving team competing in the Section 8A meet at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.

Blasczyk decided to lend a hand and volunteer as a timer during the section championships. Little did he know it would lead him to become the boys' team's new head coach just a few weeks later.

"The previous coach resigned from the position a couple of weeks before the season started," Blasczyk said. "I was helping as a timer at the girls section meet. I mentioned to the girl I was timing with that I used to be a swimmer in high school and that I missed being around the pool. Shortly after that, the resignation happened, and somebody said I should be the new coach. It all happened fast."

Blasczyk grew up on the West Coast before coming to the Midwest. Despite competing in the pool during high school, he never considered turning his experience into a head coaching gig until the opportunity presented itself.

"I grew up in California, played water polo, and was on the swim team," Blasczyk said. "It's been a long time. I like how it's going so far. I have a lot of the girl swimmers in my class, so it was fun to get back to the pool and help out at the girls meet. The fact that this happened after that makes me feel lucky."


Blasczyk's most significant challenge ahead of him is growth. The first step is to provide stability for a program that's seen three head coaches over the last four seasons.

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Luther Van Offelen swims the 200-yard IM on Dec. 21, 2021. at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center during the Lakers' home-opening meet. Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I would like to see this program grow," Blasczyk said. "We've had some good teams here. We've had strong boys swimming programs in the past, and I would like to build it back up. I want the kids to enjoy their season and for them to experience some personal and team success and to try to push themselves hard. I want to grow this program and get people interested in swimming."

The Detroit Lakes swimming and diving program has had just one swimmer compete at state since Zane Freeman qualified in diving in 2016. While the talent pool is smaller than other teams around the section, Blasczyk sees a lot of promise in his underclassmen.

"We have a lot of young guys on this team that I'm going to get a chance to work with for a long time," Blasczyk said. "Zane (Roberts) is only an eighth-grader, but he's a fantastic swimmer. I'm excited to coach him for the next five years.

The one swimmer who has been to state was senior John Gulon two years ago in the backstroke. He and Luther Van Offelen are the only seniors on the team and have been a critical shoulder for Blasczyk to lean on in the early part of the season.

"They do a really good job of leading the kids," Blasczyk said of his two seniors. "They're both quiet and humble, but all of the kids look up to them. They pace with them. John is John, and Luther had that quiet leadership presence that gets a lot of people to look up to him. He does a lot of those things that nobody else wants to. I had him in the IM and the fly today, and not everybody can swim in those races. He's a great role player. It's just nice to have seniors I can count on."

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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