As the swim season for the Missouri Military Academy Colonels draws to a close, cadets reflect on an extraordinary journey marked by resilience, growth and unforgettable moments. Their stellar performance is underscored by their achievement of securing 18th place out of 58 teams overall at the 2023 MSHAA Boys State-Class 1 championship. Cadet Paulo Pereira is featured in the image above.
In the competitive state meet, Cadet Tiago Ruas Deluca finished fourth in the state in the 200-freestyle with a time of 1:43.43, dropping 2.36 seconds, as well as placed second in the state in the 100-butterfly. Cadet Pereira placed 12thin the state in the 100-breaststroke. In a close race, MMA’s 200-freestyle relay team, consisting of Cadets Ruas Deleuca, Pereira, Iglesias and Imrie, missed the finals by 0.8 seconds. The Colonels 200-medley relay team finished 28th overall in the state.
“The cadets worked hard, and it all came together at the end of the season,” says Head Coach Matthias McManus. “It’s a great feeling.”
Each swim season brings new swimmers from all over the world. The coaches help a team of 30+ swimmers with varying abilities. McManus sets his expectations at the beginning of the season, explaining to cadets the behaviors they must exhibit to remain on the team. Cadets then write out their goals for the season and work on being good leaders for their teammates. McManus chooses team leaders based on their ability to encourage others.
“I have learned in my fifth season of coaching high school swim that each year is going to come with its own challenges,” McManus says. “Every athlete is different, and my job as a coach is to get these athletes to set and go after their goals so they feel at the end of the season that they have accomplished their goals.”
Among the many standout swimmers this season, Cadets Ruas Deluca and Pereira performed well this season as symbols of dedication and improvement. McManus noted Ruas as a “once-in-a-lifetime swimmer you get to coach,” as he made it to state finals two years in a row. Cadet Pereira also made it to the state competition two years in a row, increasing his speed in the 100-breastroke. McManus also says Cadet Bataa is an up-and-coming swimmer to look out for. Cadet Bataa started this season with a 32-second 50-freestyle and finished at state with a 24-second leg in the 200-freestyle relay.
As a state winner, Cadet Ruas Deluca says the camaraderie among teammates helps him compete. “Both this year and last year, my best friends came from the swimming team,” Ruas Deluca says. “And during competitions, it’s no different. We help each other with stretching, motivation and even tips about our events, which for me, makes a big difference.”
Cadet Ruas Deluca
In training a variety of cadets at different levels, McManus says he approaches “each swimmer as individuals and have them strive to reach their goals.” This personalized approach contributes to the overall success of the team.
McManus says one of the standout moments of this season was at the high school state championship swim meet. At this meet, Cadet Ruas Deluca showed great determination while swimming in the 100-butterfly. He began in fourth place but kicked it into gear to land a second-place finish. McManus says one of the best moments at the beginning of the season was when Cadet Nzeyimana competed in and finished his first swim meet.
McManus looks forward to next year and is hopeful that cadets will continue their swim training throughout the year. “Swimmers need to train year-round to keep their skill sets strong and fast,” he says. “I have encouraged those athletes to continue to swim on the off-season when they go home.”
Overall, McManus is excited to continue building MMA’s strong swim program. “It has gotten stronger and more focused each year due to the great support from MMA,” McManus says.