Winter Park High School has named Joe Auer as its new head swim coach, starting with the 2016 season. Looking to return to its former swimming dominance, the Wildcats are hopeful Joe is the right fit. He is joined by current coaches Barry Creighton and Kim Burke.
Known Name in Central Florida
A Winter Park alumni, Joe was a team captain and helped lead his high school team to three consecutive state titles. He was also a 9-time high school All American and won eight state titles before heading to swim for the University of Florida under Randy Reese. Joe was later inducted into the Winter Park High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
Joe competing for the Wildcats at the state meet.
As a coach, Joe has worked with swimmers on all levels, age group through college, and has had swimmers set state and national records and qualify for the Olympic Trials. He has also helped many swimmers achieve their goal of collegiate swimming.
In addition to coaching, Joe is a key component here at Florida Swim Network, being known as “SwimmerJoe” online.
History of Winning
Winter Park High School has a rich history of excellence on the state level, having won its first state title in 1939. However, the Wildcats’ true dominance wasn’t established until the mid 1970s, when the high school won 13 state boys’ titles and 12 girls’ titles over the next two decades. This included a multi-year streak of undefeated seasons, going wire to wire without losing a single meet including the state championships.
In recent years, though, the school has not won a state title since 2000 (for the girls – 1998 for the boys). The emergence of other high school powerhouses plus the lack of on-campus year round training for the sport have taken its toll. So Winter Park’s administration is hoping Joe can help revitalize the excitement about the sport of swimming among its school community.
Rebuilding the Tradition
“Returning the Wildcats to state prominence will be challenging,” Joe explains. “There are many strong teams in Class 4A, Oviedo and Gainesville High School just to name a few. We’re going to have to do a bottom-up approach, where we start building a program that has plenty of depth to it.”
One key element of rebuilding includes bringing in a club team to provide year-round training for swimmers. Joe will head a new branch of the Blue Dolfins to provide this club structure. Established in Winter Park in 1972, the Blue Dolfins have two other pools, one in Oviedo coached by Charlie Rose and one at the Winter Park Racquet Club under Kevin Meisel’s guidance. This established club team will provide coaching experience and parental support to help build the high school team.
“I actually don’t care which club they train with,” Joe adds of the high schoolers, “but if a swimmer wants to be competitive at the state meet, they need to be training year round and there are plenty of great clubs locally. The Blue Dolfins being present here at the Winter Park High School pool just provides one more convenient location.”
So It Begins
Joe met with the returning swimmers this week. There he answered questions and assured swimmers he had one goal in mind: helping them reach their full potential as athletes and students.
We look forward to following the Wildcats’ journey this coming season!