BSN Sports Team Of The Week: Mater Dei High School

by Robert Gibbs Off

January 29th, 2019 Team of the Month

With the start of the California high school season just around the corner, teams are gearing up for their first meets in just a few weeks, including Mater Dei High School, our BSN Team of the Week. The school, located in Santa Ana, CA, is one of the largest Catholic college prep schools in the country, and with a big school comes a big swim team.

The Monarchs swim team boasts roughly 120 boys and girls and includes year-round club swimmers, club water polo players, and “high school only” swimmers, creating a unique challenge for the coaching staff, but one that hasn’t stopped them from coming “together as a team and representing their school  in the best possible way,” according to coaches Ken Dory and Kelly Dullard.

Nor has it prevented the Monarchs from having success in the pool. The boys team has won two of the last three Trinity League championships, while the girls team was the runner-up each of those years. Additionally, the Mater Dei girls finished in the top eight at least year’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 Championships, and UCLA commit Stephanie Su took fourth at the overall CIF Championships in 2018.

Mater Dei does have the ability to train out of season, something they’ve increasingly put to good use. The team started practicing just 2-3 days a week back in August, then moved up to 4-5 days a week in November. This has allowed newer swimmers to get extra time to hone their skills in the preseason so they can focus on jumping in and getting training come spring, without overtaxing them in the preseason.

In terms of training, the team likes sets that involve quite swift intervals mixed in with some slower recovery intervals. One example includes a 16×50 set with odds at 1:35 and evens at 0:25 that had some swimmers initially in disbelief, but eventually realizing that they could do it.

Having such a large number of swimmers with varying degrees of swimming experience, they learn a lot about controlled speed, and practice swimming fast without hearing the words ‘sprint.’

As swimmers often spend more time at practices staring at black lines (and gasping for air between sets) than interacting with their teammates, coaches often have to be intentional in setting aside time for team bonding. One way Mater Dei has addressed this is by having the entire team eat lunch together the days of meets. This serves the dual purpose of getting the entire team together in one place and making sure that kids aren’t skipping meals, as high schoolers sometimes do while they balance academics, athletics, other extra curricular activities, and a social life. Nutrition is another big emphasis for the coaching staff, and the team’s webpage includes handouts on grocery shopping, portion control, and eating out.

The coaching staff’s emphasis on team building extends beyond just the swim and includes the Mater Dei athletic community as a whole. Realizing the power of a shared meal, the Monarchs’ swim program invites other teams from the school to stop by swim practice for breakfast about four times a year. This past fall, the freshman football team and boys lacrosse team stopped by the pool deck after a morning workout to grab a breakfast burrito. While these multi-team breakfasts may only last for 15-20 minutes, the coaches identified these them as a great example of the way they seek to grow a comprehensive team culture at Mater Dei.

Fueled by great food and led by coaches who keep the focus on the team while staying attuned to the individual athletes’ needs, the Mater Dei Monarchs are primed to make a splash in California high school swimming this season.


Founded in 1972 as a factory-direct equipment company, today BSN SPORTS is the largest distributor of team sports apparel and equipment in the United States, with over 3,000 employees across 80 regional offices. At BSN SPORTS we believe that sports have the power to change lives. At the heart of what makes sports happen are the coaches, teachers and mentors who work with young and old alike to build meaningful lifelong experiences. That’s why our mission is simple. The more time we save coaches with everything they do off the deck, the more time they can spend changing lives. And that’s the real final score.

Get your swimmers in custom team gear with your team’s logo. My Team shop provides a one-stop-shop solution to custom apparel, suits, footwear, equipment and accessories. It’s simple to setup and the My Team Shop platform can even serve as a fundraising solution to earn dollars for your program. To set one up today email us at [email protected] or call 1-877-217-9027.

To learn more about BSN sports visit us at

BSN SPORTS SWIMMING ON Instagram – @bsn_swimming

BSN Sports is a SwimSwam partner. 

Comments are closed.

About Robert Gibbs