Dan Peterkoski admitted that the year-round grind of coaching, not to mention the pressure of maintaining the Upper Arlington girls swimming and diving team’s lofty standards, can take a toll.
Peterkoski asked himself, his wife and their twin daughters after recent seasons whether it was time to step away from coaching both the swimming and girls water polo teams, and the timing never seemed right until last week.
“I asked (my twins, Addison and Brynlee, who will be 10 in September) the other night how they’d feel if I stepped away from coaching and their response was pretty joyful. They want me to be home more,” Peterkoski said. “That really made the decision for me.”
And so on March 6, Peterkoski retired after a 17-year tenure in which his teams won a combined 23 state championships – 11 Division I titles in swimming and 12 in water polo.
“Everything comes to an end. It was just realistic that someday it would come to an end,” Peterkoski said.
“This came up again at the end of this season and when it came to analyzing my family life, it was an easy decision.”
Eighteen UA swimmers won individual state championships during Peterkoski’s tenure, in addition to 27 relay titles. He also was named state swimming Coach of the Year eight times.
The girls swimming team finished third (187 points) at state last month behind OCC-Central Division rival Dublin Coffman (214) and New Albany (205) as 53 teams scored. The Bears also extended their streak of league championships to 26 this winter.
Last fall, the water polo team went 22-2-1 and defeated Cincinnati Mavericks 10-8 in the state final for its fifth state championship in seven years.
“There are too many (memorable) moments to single out just one,” Peterkoski said. “We’ve been blessed with so many great swimmers and families. That was critical to our success as a program. Seventeen years have been a blur.”
While Peterkoski coached the girls swimming team throughout his tenure, he and boys swimming coach Mike de Bear worked with both teams the past two seasons as part of an altered approach to training.
“Our whole staff has learned from him. I think he’s the best coach in the history of Upper Arlington schools and I don’t think it’s particularly close,” de Bear said. “He’s very scientific and analytical in his approach to swimming. Everything we do as a program, in every practice and every meet, has a purpose and it’s all to make every kid the best they can be.”
Peterkoski played water polo at Boston College and coached at his high school alma mater, Berea, before taking over both the swimming and water polo teams at UA in July 2003.
His last meet coaching either at UA or with the Upper Arlington Swim Club will be the West Virginia Short Course State Championships, which run Thursday, March 12, through Sunday, March 15, in Morgantown, West Virginia.
“Then I’ll step away for a while,” Peterkoski said. “If I’m needed to come back and help for a night, I can do that. I will miss it.”