This summer, if Eric Naylor was asked how he would spend his winter, he likely would've said he would be helping the Dover High School swimming program.
Naylor is a former Dover swimming standout and was an assistant swim coach with the Dover Area Aquatic Club. The 2009 Dover graduate certainly bleeds the red and white of the Eagles.
When an opening as the head swim coach at rival West York came open this fall, however, things changed pretty quickly.
Naylor applied for the job, was interviewed and eventually accepted the position to lead the Bulldogs this season, taking over for Nicole Flowers.
“If you asked me four weeks ago, if I would be here as the head coach of the West York swim team, I probably would have laughed at you,” Naylor said earlier in November. “I’m a Dover grad and I’ve been with Dover for the past three years. But I was contacted by some of the West York administrators, and they were in need of a coach, so I figured I’d see if I was a fit.”
Naylor liked what he saw and felt that he could be a big help to the Bulldog program.
“I’ve done my research, like all good coaches do,” he said. “I probably know more about (my swimmers') times than some of them do. They’ve all been good to work with so far. Probably a good quarter of the team I’ve even coached before at Dover, because a lot of them swim with the club program there. It's been an easier transition than probably most coaching changes.”
The new West York coach feels like his team already has some key components for success. The Bulldogs finished at or near the bottom of the York-Adams Division II standings last season. The West York boys were 0-5 in the division last season, while girls were 1-4.
The list of West York returners includes Kieran McKee and Jackson Miller on the boys' side, and Tesia Thomas and Ellie Landis on the girls' side.
“I’m looking to have at least one relay from both the boys' and girls' sides to make it to the state meet,” Naylor said. “I know for the boys, they haven’t made it for a few years, but the girls have had success in the past, and we’ll look to build off of that.”
Spangler takes over at Dover: Naylor, however, isn’t the only former Dover standout to become a first-year head coach this season. Ross Spangler, a 2004 Dover grad, is the new coach at his alma mater this year, replacing longtime coach Rich Janosky.
Both Spangler and Naylor were standouts for Janosky during his 29-year run leading the Dover program.
Spangler inherits a squad that he feels is primed to challenge reigning champ York Suburban on both the boys’ and girls’ sides. The Dover girls were 3-2 in the division a year ago, while the Dover boys were 2-3.
“We have a really strong program,” Spangler said. “We have nine seniors — six girls and three boys, which is about a quarter of our team. And we have really strong talent at the top.”
Some of Spangler's key performers include Grace Beierschmitt, Drew MacDonald and diver Jud Pequignot, who has qualified for the PIAA meet the past two years.
Here's a quick look around the league heading into the 2018-19 season:
Division I: Central York (5-0 girls, 4-1 boys) appears to have a lot of outstanding talent back.
Juniors Cameron Speed (200 freestyle, 500 free) and Lucas Tate (100 breaststroke) are returning all-stars for the boys, while Gabrielle Miller (50 free, 100 free), Micah Sopko (200 free, 500 free), Courtney Thornton (200 free, 500 free), Emma McCombs (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly), Brynn DuRand (100 back) and Sarah Minich (100 breast, 200 individual medley) are all returning all-stars for the CY girls.
Dallastown (5-0 boys, 4-1 girls) has typically been the class of Division I over the past three decades. The Wildcats figure to be in the mix again behind returning all-stars Riley Thomas (100 breast, 200 IM) and Joe Dunnigan (100 fly) for the boys and Araby Marston (100 breast) for the girls.
Northeastern (4-1 boys, 4-1 girls) returns all-stars Hunter Bachman (50 free) for the boys and Lauren Mummert (500 free) and Abigail O’Leary (diving) for the girls. The Bobcats were in Division II last season.
South Western (2-3 boys, 2-3 girls) returns senior Izaiah Bosse, an all-star diver, for the boys, while Rachel Cunningham, a sophomore, was an all-star in the 50 free for the girls.
Spring Grove (2-3 boys, 3-2 girls) returns all-star Megan Heist, a junior, who was honored by the coaches in the 100 breast.
Red Lion (2-3 boys, 0-5 girls) has no returning all-stars on the boys' or girls' sides.
Division II: York Suburban (5-0 boys, 5-0 girls) figures to have one or two swimmers back in the fold this season from outside club teams.
That will bolster a roster that includes 34 returning letterwinners (18 boys, 16 girls) for coach Dick Guyer, who returns to the helm after a three-year hiatus. One of the returning all-stars for the Trojans is sophomore Sophia Guyer, who was honored by the coaches in the 200 IM.
Susquehannock (1-4 boys, 2-3 girls) welcomes back junior Logan McFadden, an all-star in the 200 and 500 free, as well as Kaitlyn Baer, a senior, who was honored by the coaches in the 200 free.
Gettysburg (3-2 boys, 0-5 girls) returns Morgan Newell, a junior, who was an all-star in the 100 free and 100 fly.
New Oxford (0-5 boys, 1-4 girls) returns Lauren Richter, an all-star in both the 100 free and 100 fly, for the girls. The Colonials were in Division I last season.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.