Fort Walton Beach swim coach Will Breehl is the Daily New Swimming Coach of the Year

FORT WALTON BEACH — Even in a sport as individualistic as swimming can be, Will Breehl still reckons teamwork is the key to building better swimmers.


Swimming alongside your peers and exchanging encouragement with them fosters healthy completion.


“I think it’s just staying together,” said Breehl, Fort Walton Beach’s sixth-year swim coach. “We really try to get ’em to bring each other up. We talked a lot about that, bringing each other along, not just doing it for yourself but doing it for your teammates.


“We really just tried to focus on us, understanding we can’t control what other teams are doing and just being thankful for having the team that we have and having the teammates that we have around us.”


Given the results, it’s hard to argue with Breehl. That’s why he’s the Daily News Swimming Coach of the Year.


Fort Walton Beach produced six District 1-3A championship swims, set two program records at the Region 1-3A meet and placed its boys 10th overall in November at the 3A Florida High School Swimming & Diving State Championships in Stuart, while the girls placed 23rd.


“I’m really thankful,” Breehl said. “We do take pride in it. This is our sixth year in a row we’ve had either girls or guys in the top 10 at the end of the year. We’re happy for each other … we’re just trying to keep that going.”


The Vikings also produced both of 2019’s Daily News Swimmers of the Year in seniors Paris Binard and Nathaniel Rudman.


Rudman paced the boys’ state performance, placing seventh in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.44 seconds and eighth in the100-yard butterfly with a time of 51.16. He also teamed with Tyler Woodworth, Logan McCarroll and Chris Tang to claim a bronze medal in the 200-yard freestyle relay, finishing in 1:27.17. The same squad placed sixth in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:38.25.


Meanwhile, Binard placed seventh in the 50-yard freestyle in 24.42 and ninth in the 100-yard backstroke in 59.40.


“I’m just really proud of ’em to see how far they’ve come,” Breehl said. “They’ve grown into being better leaders. I think when all is said and done, they’re really good teammates.”


Of course, Breehl would be nowhere without associate coach Mathilda Ravine, he said.


“Mathilda really stepped up this year,” he said. “She brought out a lot of positive feelings and helped them keep their heads on their shoulders. It’s hard being a high schooler sometimes, so we gotta talk to them, make sure they’re OK and stuff like that.”


Both coaches’ efforts were greatly appreciated.


“They were amazing, absolutely amazing,” Binard said. “They really did so much for us this year. From driving us all over the place and providing what we needed as a team and just being there and coaching us — it was really just incredible and amazing what they’ve done this year.”