The University of Georgia swimming and diving head coach Jack Bauerle has created one of the most successful programs in the country. In his 40 years as head coach of the women’s team, they’ve won seven NCAA Championships.
However, this year didn’t quite live up to the standards that Georgia and Bauerle are used to as both the men’s and women's teams finished in 18th at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
The Red & Black caught up with Bauerle to talk with him about the end of the season, a busy offseason, recruiting and international swimming.
The Red & Black: From this past season — both teams finished 18th at the NCAA Championships — if anything, what did you learn?
Jack Bauerle: We just weren’t as deep, we’ll be better this year. It goes in cycles. I mean we were so blessed for a while and we were so deep. We’ll be back again. You always learn something when you’re not as good as you think you should be or would like to be… Also we lost a lot of Olympians, and not just Olympians, but medalists. And all of a sudden we have to develop more again, because they weren’t Olympians when they got here. But, I also think team-wise you learn a little bit, and even though we’ll be a younger team in many regards, I think we’ll be a better team.
R&B: In your many, many years of experience, how has your approach to the offseason changed?
JB: Probably I used to think we had an offseason. In ‘79 and back in the early ‘80s there was no offseason. This season actually to me is the most important in many regards because we can get a lot more done. School is not as intrusive. During the school year I would say we have kids who train hard, but also we have kids who go to school hard… This is a big time. We have such a focus on international swimming, we have right now first or second most athletes on the U.S.A. National team. So, summertime is huge.
R&B: During the offseason, what do you like your swimmers to focus on?
JB: We don’t really feel like we have an offseason because summer’s so big. But, when they do have a bit of a break, I just focus on taking care of their bodies, eating well and then we just try to take as few days off as possible... Just getting settled and rest a little bit because for the elite swimmers, they only have off for about 2 ½ weeks.
R&B: And for summers is recruiting a big thing for you and your staff? Is it easier to get a recruit tocome to Georgia because of the rich history?
JB: We never stop anymore. It’s constant… I think the history helps a lot and certainly initially because sometimes kids will grow up knowing about Georgia. You know they’ve seen it in the Olympic Games or the NCAAs on TV, but certainly the Olympics. I think the program has an instant credibility.
R&B: You’re headed to the World Championships as an assistant coach and you have a lot of history there, what keeps bringing you back and keeps you motivated to continue coaching?
JB: Elite swimming. Yeah, it’s fun. And wanting to be there for them [his swimmers from Georgia]. It’s tough, over the years it’s a lot of time away from family. You know the Olympic Games one time it was just shy of two months, a couple other times 45 days. It’s a hard deal, but as a coach it’s easy.
I thought I’d done my last trip to be honest with you, then we put six kids on the World Championship team, so that’s how it worked out. Everything’s good about it except for the flight. Because when we go from New York to Singapore that’ll be the longest flight you can actually take, it’ll be 18 hours.
R&B: Are there any particular players you’re interested in seeing grow and are excited about?
JB: Actually, Callie Dickinson I think is going to do really well. We’ve got a couple freshman, I think Bradley Dunham is going to really sort of blossom too. Kevin Miller as a distance swimmer, Greg Reed, and I think Sammie Burchill and also Danielle Della Torre. I think Olivia Carter is going to be really, really great, same as Dakota Luther. I think a bunch of them are just going to swim better. Another guy is Jack Dalmolin who is going to be really good, and a lot of it is because he’s putting in a good summer. If they don’t have a good summer, then I’m not excited.