HUNTSVILLE – After rising through the ranks of the Huntsville Swim Association all the way to the United States Olympic Trials as an athlete, Dave Kalange rejoins the team as head age group coach.
Kalange, a former Grissom High School swimming and cross country star, makes his HSA coaching debut Sept. 28-29 at the Fall Classic Meet. He returns to the Huntsville indoor Natatorium with a wealth of knowledge gained from swimming and working with some of Team USA's top mentors.
The 1992 Grissom graduate was a member of four state championships in swimming. He was on the Tigers freshman state championship cross country team in 1988, also winning the individual state title.
"It's very exciting to be back," said Kalange. "I haven't spent much time in Huntsville since I graduated high school. It's so great to see old friends and be back here at the Natatorium where I can't even begin to count the number of hours I've spent here."
The former USA Swimming Junior National champion in the 800 freestyle started swimming at age 4. He joined HSA when he was 9. In 1992, he qualified for the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships U.S. Olympic Team Selection Meet in Indianapolis, Ind. He's listed as the sixth-place finisher in the 800 meter freestyle finals and he also swam in the mile event at the Olympic Trials.
He still owns the HSA short course record in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 15:28.38 in 1990. Kalange went on to swim for both the University of Georgia and Ashland University. He graduated from Ashland in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education.
"Dave returns to the club with an incredible coaching resume," said HSA Head Coach Matt Webber. "Along the way, he has coached everyone from beginner swimmers to Olympic and world record holders."
In 2009, the American Swimming Coaches Association awarded Kalange with the Certificate of Excellence for the achievement of coaching multiple swimmers to the finals and top three finishes at USA Swimming's National Championships.
Most recently, Kalange served as an aquatics coordinator and masters coach at the Bushy Creek Swim Team in Round Rock, Texas. He is a former head coach of the Circle C Select and Emerge Multisport Triathlon teams in Austin, Texas, and the Clearwater, Fla., Aquatic Team.
He's a former associate head coach of Longhorn Aquatics (Austin) and was also employed by the Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics (Calif.) as head age group coach.
His wife, Sue, is an age group triathlete, and their daughter, Sydney, 8, also enjoys swimming.
"I guess I've pretty much gone coast to coast," Kalange said. "My wife has, too. She grew up in Amelia Island, Florida. Sue was a soccer player, a golfer and a track star in high school. She played college soccer in California at Sonoma State University."
Susan Young, HSA's other new coach, also sports an impressive resume. She has more than 30 years of experience working with all age groups. She's led infant swim lessons, water safety instruction, stroke classes and water aerobics. She also serves as a lifeguard and is an assistant coach with the Redstone swim team in the Rocket City Swim League.
"I spent a lot of my youth living in Africa," Young said. "My father was a veterinarian and we moved there when I was 8 and then moved back to the states when I was age 13. I actually learned to swim in the Indian Ocean. When we moved back to the states, I graduated from Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado."
Young moved to Huntsville six years ago. She also works as a nurse part-time in the Huntsville city school system.
"I feel comfortable helping to teach the beginning swimmers," Young said. "I enjoy getting in the water with them and trying to make them better."
HSA hosts its initial short course meet of the year in the wake of a successful long course season. The team qualified a record number of swimmers for Southeastern Championships in Nashville, where the squad posted 73 percent best times.
Five swimmers placed first in individual events: Kobie Melton, Marybeth Monk, Alison Hu, Sarah Margaret Cimino and Curtis Cooper. The age 11-12 girls and 13-14 boys relays teams also finished first. A dozen team records were broken.
Seven athletes went on to become members of the Southeastern Zone Team for the Age Group Southern Zone Championships in Greenville, S.C. This group included Hu, Melton, Monk, Cimino, Mallory Underwood, John Smith and Zack Harting, who was also selected as a team captain.
Eight HSA team records were set with Harting winning the 100 and 200 butterfly finals. Underwood won the 200 IM. She was second in the 100 free and 200 breaststroke. Cimino was second overall in the 200 fly.
Harting and teammate Jack Calatrello were named to the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Team.
HSA capped the long course season as the top-ranked team within the state in the USA Swimming Virtual Club Championships. The team was ranked fifth in Southeastern Swimming and had its highest ranking nationally.
The HSA Fall Classic attracts top swimmers from all over the area. The 10-and-under warm-ups are at 7:45 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. Events start at 9. Eleven-and-over athletes compete in the afternoon both days.
Sanctioned by Southeastern Swimming, all of the entries are USA Swimming certified athletes. Ribbons are awarded for first through eighth place in all 12-and-under events and first through third in the relays.
The Natatorium features bleacher seating and the entire meet is free to the public. Concessions and swim memorabilia will also be on sale.