New Coach Brabson Has High Hopes for Future of Swimming and Diving Program

Emma Lehmann

New swimming and diving head coach Andrew Brabson has only had a month to plan his move to Oberlin. His first day on campus will also be his first day coaching the team but for Brabson this is something to look forward to. Athletic Director Natalie Winkelfoos and senior captain Chris Pickens agree—his excitement for the program made him the strongest candidate.

“From the beginning, Andrew had a lot of enthusiasm for Oberlin,” said Winkelfoos.  “He understood this place.”

Brabson’s move to Oberlin came under unusual circumstances. This summer, the swimming and diving team received some startling news: Their head coach had decided to move to a different school. The long swim season begins in September and the search for a new coach had to happen quickly.

“Timing was not on my side when it came to finding a new swim coach,” said Winkelfoos. Despite the time crunch, the application process proved to be fairly competitive. The school received about 60 applications, which were eventually narrowed down to two outstanding candidates.

“The Athletics department did a really good job of getting on it right away,” said Pickens.

According to Winkelfoos, Brabson’s enthusiasm set him apart. Given Coach Mark Fino’s departure, Winkelfoos wanted to find a coach who “understands the value of the Oberlin education [and] sees this place as a destination.”

To Winkelfoos, Brabson demonstrated these characteristics by going out of his way to learn the names and personal records of the Yeomen swimmers.

Brabson said he was drawn to Oberlin because of its “excellent academic reputation, welcoming coaches, staff, students and administrators” as well as “the opportunity to build a great swimming and diving program from a strong core of student-athletes.”

In Brabson’s time as assistant coach at Hood College in Maryland, his team saw marked improvement including the accomplishment of 23 new school records at the Middle Atlantic Conference Championship meet. He swam for Denison University in college, giving him a unique perspective on competition within the North Coast Athletic Conference.

“I have seen first hand what it takes to become a national championship level team. This insight, as well as my familiarity with the conference, will be instrumental in the development of the swimming and diving program here at Oberlin,” said Brabson.

The captains have high expectations of Brabson and the future of their program. “A lot of us would like to make some national cuts, placing better at conference,” said Pickens.

Brabson echoed the same sentiment. “I want to find out what [the team] responds to and get them excited about the great performances that they are all capable of,” he said.

The team begins its season on Oct. 19 at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY.