Everything Eagles: Kauth takes swim to the next level

The young head coach has elevated his program in just two years on the job.

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Everything Eagles: Kauth takes swim to the next level

Photo Courtesy of Biola Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Biola Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Biola Athletics

Austin Green, Managing Editor

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(This story was originally published in print on Feb. 28, 2019).

A year and a half ago, I sat across from a captain of Biola’s swim team at one of the tables nestled against the Biola Bookstore. It was dark, and the area around our table was not well-lit. But I will always remember the gloomy expression on senior Tom Franicevich’s face, and for good reason. Emily Mosbacher, the coach who had named him captain, had taken a job at the University of Denver just weeks before the season was set to begin. The athletic department was scrambling for a replacement.

I had just officially started as the new Chimes sports editor, and I, too, was worried about the future of the swim team—the first Eagles squad I covered consistently for the paper. If only we could look back now and see what has happened since that meeting. Biola swim has reached a new level and has sky-high potential in the future. What changed? It starts at the top, with head coach Ryan Kauth.

EMERGENCY HIRE, EMERGENT CULTURE

Kauth was hired as the Eagles’ new head swim coach soon after that conversation I had with Franicevich. I remember walking into Kauth’s cluttered office about a month after he was hired. He was still settling in, as evidenced by the mess in his office and the tone in his voice. Even then, though, one could see the impact he was starting to have on his team.

Almost exactly one year later, I returned to Lansing Pool to catch up with Kauth. I found a coach fully implementing his own culture within his program, both in the training-intensive “Rocktober” and in the deep freshmen class that represented his first Biola recruits.

Two of those freshmen would go on to break school records before the end of their first swim season. Nicole Chang set new marks in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstrokes during the Collegiate Winter Invitational last December, and Katelyn Harper broke a Biola record of her own in the 1650-meter freestyle in the conference championships less than two weeks ago.

Chang and Harper are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Other freshmen who recorded noteworthy finishes at the Pacific Swim and Dive Conference championships included Annie Bristow, Kasidee Pascoe, Clayton Owens, Jonathan Villa and Westin Dawe. Go through the Chimes’ swim recaps from this season. In just about every article, a freshman—often several of them—will have done something worth mentioning.  

They are the first group of swimmers to be indoctrinated into Kauth’s culture from the moment they set foot on Biola’s campus. And what a culture that is. One only has to journey to the @biolaaquatics Instagram page to find a piece of Kauth’s infectious energy—and the results it is bringing.

“Quality IM Work Today! 10 Days Out from Winter Invite, & the Eagles were HOT!” a post from Nov. 20 reads in part. The next day, Kauth posted a selfie of himself, assistant coach Nate Harding, Pascoe and freshman Faith McAllister, praising the two rookie swimmers for getting in one last workout before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Every time a meet is won or a record is broken, a post goes up—and there are a lot of those posts. Every time a new recruit verbally commits to the team, a post goes up—and there are a lot of those posts for the class of 2019, too. Kauth also floods his feed with noteworthy team statistics that he finds, such as their point totals in the PCSC championships from the past three years.

In 2017, the men’s swim team recorded 488 total points while the women had 390. In 2018, the end of Kauth’s first year, those totals jumped to 619 and 505, respectively.

And in 2019, the men had 793 points, while the women had 610.

“GROWTH! #BUSwimOnTheRISE,” the caption accompanying that Feb. 26 post read.

Growth is right. Three different men’s swimmers broke a total of five records in that meet, with junior Raymond Kam taking three—including re-breaking his own record in the 100-meter breaststroke. Villa, meanwhile, broke Kam’s record in the 200-meter butterfly and junior Matthew Roe added a program-best mark in the 100-meter individual medley.

All three, along with most of the Eagles’ key men’s and women’s swimmers, will return next season, joining the seemingly massive 2019-20 freshman class that Kauth is building.

All the evidence points to one conclusion. As far as Biola swim has already come in the Ryan Kauth era, the program’s best days are just around the corner.