Prior to the Longhorns' dual-meet opener this Friday, Oct. 8, at Indiana, head coach Eddie Reese, along with longtime assistant Kris Kubik and veteran diving coach Matt Scoggin, took a few moments to talk Texas men's swimming and diving as the team prepares for yet another successful campaign.
Kris, aside from winning 25-straight conference titles, what is it about Texas Swimming that's so unique?
Kubik: I think Texas is a unique program in that the swimmers know from the outset that the goal for everyone to get better every year over a four- or five-year period. Miracles don't happen overnight; they take time to develop. Our swimmers and divers can look at the history of the program and see people who have done just that and know that if they continue to grow and develop, they can have some rewards somewhere down the line.
What about you, Eddie?
Reese: Kris and I are a lot alike in that we're both – and I don't even know if I like this word – caretakers. Our practices are a lot more positive than negative. I've been at other schools and clubs where they believe if you slap a champion down, they will get back up. I understand that, but I also believe that if you say good things about them and repeat that to them over and over, they start to believe and they will be up even higher. Kris and I are both alike in that respect.
One of the best things I've learned is from DeLoss Dodds [UT Director of Athletics], who was a great track coach. And I'm not just saying that because he is the AD. He had a world record two-mile relay – that's half-a-mile for each man – and a distance medley relay – which is a quarter mile, half mile, three-quarters of a mile and a mile – and all the runners were from within 200 miles from Kansas State, which has never happened before. He told me that if you want somebody to believe something, you tell them a lot.
And you, Coach Scoggin?
Scoggin: One of the most unique things about the both the men's and the women's swimming and diving programs here – and I can say this having been an athlete here and my wife being an athlete on the diving team, as well – that at Texas, there is a consistent, year-after-year feeling of unity between the swimmers and divers. Sometimes the swimmers carry the majority of the weight during a meet and the divers help out the swimmers as much as possible. And, occasionally, just the opposite happens where the divers are really carrying the ball. Year after year, no matter who is carrying the momentum, everyone is totally supportive of each other and I feel that is unique.
Eddie, do you think of yourself more as a coach or a teacher?
Reese: Teacher for sure. We – Kris and I – think we've got the right perspective on life. We know swimming isn't life or death and we're not going to treat it that way. We are not going to risk anybody's health or their grades for the sake of a swim meet. Swim meets are here today gone tomorrow. You would like you athletes to be the best they could possibly be, but sometimes they are not.
Eddie, you’ve been in coaching now for over 40 years. Where does your passion come from?
Reese: Every year is a different year. Even if you've got the same people, they are different. If you did the right thing last year then you have made them better. To make them even better, you must find a way to work –and I know work is such a mundane word – but you must find a way to work them so they can get better. I like the challenge. I like being on the cutting edge of training, nutrition, weight lifting, and I like trying to find new and better ways to do things.
Kris, what kinds of things does Eddie say to the guys on the team before a meet?
Kubik: Well, right before the Olympic Trials, we had a team meeting and Eddie talked about how you shouldn't be able to tell the winners and the losers at the conclusion of a race based on their emotions. He told the guys that he knew many of them were going to do very well. So, that being said, he wanted to make sure that when they touched the wall, their show doesn't overshadow the swimmers who didn't swim to the best of their ability. So, in a roundabout way he told them, 'I have total faith that you are going to go fast, and when you do, don't make a big scene about it.' He got the guys to believe, and in some respects, gave the guys permission to go really fast.
Speaking of the Olympics, Kris, how much motivation have this year’s Olympians given to some of the younger guys on the team?
Kubik: The main thing the kids learn from the Olympians is that they are normal people who worked really hard to accomplish what they did. The swimming example is right there in front of them, motivating them to do just that. It is not a matter of walking in and getting out of the pool at the end of the day. It's a matter of walking in and you working as hard as you possibly can to the best of your ability and making the most out of yourself as you can each day for a much longer period of time. Those guys set that example every day.
Eddie, where is your team at right now?
Reese: I feel really good about where we are from the day they got to school until now. We have adjusted really well to a harder workload earlier in the year. We are working longer and harder than most teams at Texas have at this point. What impresses me about this year's freshman class is their willingness to listen and trust us a great deal. They have taken on a heavy work load without any questions and I'm pleased with that.
Eddie, event by event, where do you imagine Texas’ strengths lie this year?
Reese: I believe we will be strongest in the 100 and 200 backstrokes as well as both breaststrokes. We have a team with a great deal of potential and we would like not to have that all that potential at the end of the year. We're young, but we have a great group of seniors and we hope this will be their year. I've been waiting for them to break loose and now it's their time.
On the diving front, how are things shaping up? Where are Matt Bisordi and Brian Smith right now, heading into the dual-meet with Indiana?
Scoggin: This is a fairly early time of year for diver to have a dual meet, so it's going to be a good challenge for them. Especially going against Indiana. Indiana has six good male divers. We have a smaller squad then years past. Brian and Matt have been very diligent in the weight room and have been making good progress in the pool. I'm eager to see them compete. They did a good job in the Orange and White scrimmage last weekend, and I feel this will be a good early challenge for them.