Coen Weiler has complete control over Shelbyville’s swim program.
With help from assistant coach Sabrina Carver, Weiler is the head coach of both the high school and middle school programs and is the director and coach of the Shelby County Aquatic Club that gets boys and girls into competitive swimming.
Year in and year out, one voice resonates from top to bottom in the program and that consistency is starting to pay off for the Golden Bears.
The high school swim season ended Friday for one senior, two juniors and a sophomore at the IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Championships at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Shelbyville’s record-setting 200-yard medley relay team of Will Rife, Tyler Harker, Juan Gonzalez-Gallego and Trey Carrell finished 31st Friday in the state finals preliminary round with a time of 1:42.81. The quartet broke the 24-year-old school record of 1:42.02 while winning the New Palestine Sectional title six days earlier.
Harker, the senior, returned to the pool Friday after the relay race and nearly matched his sectional winning time in the 200 freestyle to improve on his seed by two spots.
Harker’s time of 1:46.23 left him 28th overall in the state championship.
Rife finished 32nd in the 100 butterfly, touching the wall in 55.47 in his first state finals appearance.
“My first year, six years ago we were taking Nolan Davis for the first time that we had a state qualifier in a decade or more,” said Weiler. “It’s been kind of nice to cap that with Tyler as a senior because Tyler was a seventh grader coming in that year.
“Nolan means a lot to him and Nolan set the 200 free record and 500 free record. Tyler has kind of stepped out of Dylan’s shadow (Tyler’s older brother) and followed in Nolan’s footsteps. For him to bookend this run with our first boy in awhile and Tyler getting there, I think it shows where the program is headed.”
Harker’s older brother, Dylan, recently finished his collegiate swim career at Franklin College where Davis is currently a senior swimmer and sophomore Cameron Baker is part of FC’s diving team.
Shelbyville’s swim program had five state qualifiers in 2022 with senior Karissa Hamilton winning sectional titles in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle (main photo, all five honored at Thursday's boys basketball game).
Hamilton holds three individual records and three relay records within the Shelbyville program.
Rife now holds the 100 butterfly record, one he took from Gonzalez-Gallego, who set it at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet in December.
Rife, Harker, Gonzalez-Gallego and Carrell (photo, at IU Natatorium Friday) will get their names up soon enough after taking down the second-oldest swimming record on the boys side of the record board.
Hamilton, Harker and Gonzalez-Gallego, an exchange student from Spain, will not return to the program next season along with senior Marlee Rice, also a state qualifier during her career.
Weiler (photo, with Karissa Hamilton at IU Natatorium) and Carver will turn to a growing middle school program that is full of swimmers that have matriculated up through the club program to keep the success rolling.
“Girls wise, we have a big group coming up which is awesome,” he said. “Boys wise, we will be lean in numbers for a couple of years but I think we have a foundation that is building.
“The kids in our program now as sixth graders have never been a part of this swim team without somebody going to state. It’s built into their brains that that is the expectation. It’s built into them that the culture of Shelbyville swimming is going to state. They know that expectation and they know what it takes. They know a lot of these kids and they’ve been around a lot of these kids so it’s tangible to them. It’s not some mystical figure that swam 15 years ago and went to state. It’s so tangible to these kids that I think success will breed success here for quite awhile.”
Gonzalez-Gallego touted the swim facilities as a big reason for his success in his one and only season as a Golden Bear.
Hailing from Malaga, Spain, he arrived in the United States with the caveat that he needed placement at a school with a swim program. A three-time nationals qualifier in Spain, he finished fourth in the 200 butterfly his sophomore season.
“I really liked (being here),” he said. “I like how as little a school as we are, we have the timing (system) and everything as it is. It is so professional.”
Gonzalez-Gallego will finish the school year before returning home in June thankful for the opportunity he had at Shelbyville.
“We are like a big team,” he said. “I really like this team because we are really together. We go out together. I don’t see that on my team in Spain. I like it here because everyone cheers for everyone.”
Gonzalez-Gallego’s skill level upon arrival instantly made the Golden Bears around him better.
“He brought another level of competition,” said Weiler. “It was really nice having him come in. We knew the level to expect and I think for Will and Tyler, it was a boost for them. (Juan) is a legit swimmer and (they saw) they were right there with him. It’s been a fun experience to have him around. I think he was a big factor in us getting that medley relay record.”
Weiler finished up a busy weekend with the four Golden Bears at the Indiana University Natatorium Friday night and the middle school swimmers competing in the HHC Meet Saturday at New Palestine.
The middle school Golden Bears have three meets left over the final two weeks of the season. The program hosts Greenfield-Central Thursday at 5:30 p.m.