Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
An understanding of the sport and an ability to communicate that to the coaching staff. The more an athlete knows about themselves both in terms of motivation and skill the more we can work in a partnership to bring out the best in that athlete. Independence and maturity as indicated by them taking the lead in the recruiting process rather than a parent. It speaks volumes to what you can expect in future years. Enthusiasm for training; our sport is hours and hours of hard nonstop training, and unless someone has an excellent work ethic and high capacity for training they will not improve. Lastly, competitiveness and strong goal setting abilities so we can map out the next four years.
Could you give an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
The best stories are not of the people who surpassed my expectations, but the people who I have helped surpass their own expectations. We had a male walk-on from Georgia who was way over his head surrounded by swimmers head and shoulders above him in ability. He spent freshman year wondering if he really even belonged on the team and that he was completely inferior to all his peers. Through incredibly hard work, that he really had no business even attempting, and through a lot of determination he slowly started seeing personal success to the point of winning the semi final heat of the 100 free at our conference meet. I watched him change from an insecure freshman filled with self doubt to a senior with arms raised overhead roaring after that win. He would never have imagined himself in that position and wrote me a note after graduation saying that his plans after college had always included joining the Army but he felt that the team he just graduated from had made him a man and he had learned all of the lessons he could ever had hoped to learn if he had joined the Army. As a coach, there is nothing better than hearing your swimmer say “I can’t believe I swam that fast”. It was work ethic, respect and trust in the coaches and the influence of an atmosphere of success and support that helped him excel.