DALLAS — David Morelli is no stranger to the world of swimming. Since he began as a competitive diver in college, Morelli has been involved with competing in, or coaching swimming, Utah, Alaska and Oregon.
He coached the Blue Dolphins youth swim team in the early 2000s before serving as an assistant at Dallas until 2014-15, when he worked at McKay as an assistant coach.
“I was a pastor at the Presbyterian church here (in Dallas) and I left and went to Woodburn,” Morelli said. “I retired a year ago and that left me some free time. The timing was never right to step in full time at the high school. Now I’ve got the time to step in.”
Morelli will see several returning swimmers who may compete to qualify for the state meet, including junior Jolie-Rae Ford, senior Elizabeth Dressel and senior Lucas Diaz.
“It’s exciting to work with swimmers who are potentially state qualifiers,” Morelli said. “But I’m also excited to take someone who doesn’t know how to swim or barely swims and showing them what they can do.”
Morelli hopes to increase the Dragons’ numbers through word of mouth.
He also hopes to attract athletes looking for a way to stay in shape during the winter season.
“We’re looking at kids who maybe swam when they were younger and stopped in middle school, or the kids who have a fall sport and have a spring sport,” Morelli said. “Swimming can be a good sport for them to stay in condition.”
Morelli hopes to expand the swim team’s appeal beyond athletes to people looking to try a sport in high school — regardless of whether they’ve swam before or not — and bring its participation levels to new heights.
“It’s a lifetime sport,” Morelli said. “It’s an individual sport, but also a team sport. In the end, though, it’s up to the individual whether they do well or not. It teaches them a life lesson. I always say if you work hard, you’ll swim fast. If you don’t work hard, you won’t swim fast. It’s up to you.”