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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2019

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UMW swim coach Abby Brethauer looks to continue great coaching career

UMW swim coach Abby Brethauer looks to continue great coaching career


The University of Mary Washington swim program is led by six-year head coach Abby Brethauer. The Eagles wrapped up their dual meets for the first semester and have one more competition at the Gettysburg College Invitational on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 before winter break.

Both teams hold records of 4-1, with both losses coming at the hands of Johns Hopkins. Coach Brethauer earned her 100th career win on Oct. 29 when the teams beat Randolph-Macon College.

Q: How did you get to be the head coach of UMW swimming?

A: I would like to think my passion helped me get hired here at UMW. I started my coaching career after swimming at the Division III level for four years. My first job was as the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s programs at Hamilton College, from there I moved on to be the assistant for the women’s team at Columbia University and then after six years there I was hired at UMW.

Q: How did you get into swimming?

A: My parents started me in lessons when I was six months old and that was all it took. I started swimming on a summer team when I was four years old, and a year round team in New Hampshire when I was six. I swam collegiately at Kenyon College in Ohio. My college coaches, Jim Steen, Amy Heasley-Williams, Arthur Albiero and Peter Casares, were some of the most important mentors and role models over my four years there which inspired me to go into coaching. I continue to be challenged and inspired by all of my past coaches and hope to live up to the example they set for me the environment that they created at Kenyon.

Q: What is the UMW swim team like?

A: Amazing. The kids on the team are phenomenal human beings who inspire me every day. I love watching them interact with each other and push one another to be better in every aspect of their lives, from the classroom to the pool to the community. Working with 18 to 22 year olds can sometimes be a challenge, but there is nothing better than seeing them through their four years at UMW and watching them achieve their goals.

Q: How is the team’s work ethic?

A: The work ethic of the members of the team is unparalleled; they are training 18 to 20 hours a week, over the course of eight practices and three strength and conditioning sessions, and they bring that same focus to their academics. Our women’s team had the second highest GPA of the athletic department of 3.2 and our men’s team had the highest of all male teams with a 3.1 GPA.

Q: What brought you to UMW?

A: So many things, I love the Division III philosophy so when I was looking to leave Columbia I knew I wanted to be at a school that placed a high value on academics and athletics. I was also excited about the opportunity to get back to coaching both a men’s and women’s program, as well as being on the east coast. Once I saw the campus and met with some of the swimmers, I was sold, because I knew this was a program with a history of success that was poised to become a player at the national level.

Q: What challenges have you faced at UMW compared to other universities?

A: I have now been on the coaching staff at three schools and learned that everywhere has its challenges. One of the challenges of being part of the athletic department at UMW is that all of our teams are incredibly successful and my coaching colleagues are some of the best in their respective fields; I want to make sure that I do my part to live up to the expectations of our department and continue the rich tradition of excellence that UMW Athletics is known for.