By KELLY SCOTT
After six years as an assistant coach for Columbia University, Abby Brethauer takes the position of head coach for Men’s and Women’s Varsity Swimming at Mary Washington. Following a surprising leave by former coach Matt Sellman, Brethauer has already begun implementing her ideas and passion for the sport into the program.
“I feel so lucky to walk into a program with such great history,” Brethauer said. “I have big goals, but I know a lot comes from talking to the team. If they aren’t on board, it doesn’t matter.”
Having big goals is an understatement for Brethauer, who would love nothing more than to one day beat her Division III alma mater, Kenyon College. Kenyon College is considered one of the top swimming schools in all of NCAA Division III, with their varsity men’s swimming team having won 31 consecutive national championships and the women’s team having won 23 titles since 1984. Last year the Mary Washington women’s team ranked fourth and the men’s team ranked 21st, so a good base is set for Brethauer to build upon.
As a former NCAA Division III record holder and three-time team national champion at Kenyon, Brethauer believes her college swimming background will give her an edge.
“Coming from one of the top D III schools, I know how it’s done,” Brethauer said. “We were no different than any other teams despite the mystique, and once you get past that, it’s easier to think about beating them.”
The swimmers, each with a few goals of their own, are also excited about Brethauer’s hopes for the future of the UMW swimming program.
“She seems awesome,” junior Caroline Deluca said. “[She’s] so chill and low-key, exactly what we need after a loss. I’m excited for a good season with her.”
The Eagles will have quite a transition this year, but through the input and guidance of the seniors, Brethauer plans to keep many traditions and routines the same to make the change as easy as possible.
“I have a couple of sets I want to incorporate– those kind of sets that as soon as you finish, you know they made you better, whether you failed or not,” Brethauer said. “You see, I think failure is a good thing. Watch me fail, and then watch how I come back from it.”
According to the swimmers, as long as Brethauer is ready to tackle challenges, have fun, and really work with the dynamic of the team, UMW swimming will only thrive in the years to come.
Senior Ashley Green had some words of wisdom for her new coach.
“Keep an open mind about everything. Have fun with it and get to know everyone as best you can,” she said.
With everybody on board, the Eagles plan on having even more success in the CAC Conference as they strive to win their 21st and 11th consecutive conference titles for the women and men’s teams respectively.