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Swimming: Ertl steps down after 30 years as swim coach

Rosemount athletic director Mike Manning doesn't need to go very far to understand how much swimming coach Jim Ertl has meant to the Irish swimming programs.

Manning has had three of his own sons pass through Ertl's programs.

"I've had three boys swim for him and I know he is a big person in my three sons' lives," Manning said. "They're really fond of coach Ertl."

As athletic director, Manning also knows how he can trust the longtime coach. Ertl has coached the Rosemount boys swimming and diving team for 30 years. He's also served as the coach of the girls swimming and diving team for much of the past 30 years.

Ertl has stepped away from coaching the girls program before, only to be talked into returning to the job four times, twice by Manning in the past 15 years.

"A new coach would leave and then I would beg him to take the job again," Manning said.

This week, there was no amount of Manning maneuvering that was going to keep Ertl from his intended plan. Ertl announced he was stepping down as coach of the high school and middle school swimming programs. He will continue to teach in the district.

"If it was just working with the kids, I could do that," Ertl said, noting the increasing time commitment involved in coaching these days. "It's a complex job and we've had really high expectations in the program. That takes more time. It's been unbelievable. All the kids I've had the opportunity to coach and how well we've done, is what keeps you going."

Manning knows the time commitment leading both programs was immense. He also knows that it wasn't a sudden decision for Ertl.

"He puts in so much time," Manning said. "He's been talking about it for a couple of years. I was hoping he would just condense it down. We're going to miss him. He was so successful and did a wonderful job. It will be really difficult to replace him."

Manning hopes to have a replacement in place by the end of the school year, adding a firmer deadline of July 1.

"We're fortunate Jim has had good people on his staff," Manning said. "We want to meet with them and talk about their level of interest. We won't have a teaching position to offer, so we will be somewhat restricted in what we are able to do."

Ertl coached the boys program for three decades. During his tenure, the Irish have won 10 conference titles, seven section titles and have placed as high as second in the state twice. There also have been numerous state individual champions and All-American qualifiers.

In the past two seasons, Rosemount's boys have won both True Team and the end-of-the-season section titles. The Irish placed third at True Team state each season and ended the year with a fourth-place finish at state last year and a fifth-place finish this season.

Those last two facts are one reason Ertl feels comfortable stepping aside now. He expects the Rosemount boys to continue their impressive run.

"That's the good part of leaving where I am now," Ertl said. "The boys have enough, if the guys really go after it, to be a contender in the conference again and possibly the section."

The girls program has been under Ertl's direction for the past seven years, his fourth tenure as head coach. The girls team has won one state title with Ertl as coach. The Irish placed second in the True Team section meet this past season, advancing and finishing 12th at the True Team state meet.

Ertl also sees potential in the girls program.

"In a few years it might the best girls team we've ever assembled," Ertl said. "I think they have more talent coming in than we've ever had in a group."

Ertl is pleased to leave good teams to his successor, but he wrestled with the decision.

"It's been on my mind for a little while," Ertl said. "I wanted to separate myself from the high school season, then I had the middle school. I've really enjoyed it."

For Ertl, there's been a lot to enjoy.