How College Swimming Changed My Life: Cornell Coach Wes Newman

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Walker

By Matt Grillo, Swimming World College Intern

Wes Newman was sitting inside his cubical working a business internship in Philadelphia during the summer of 2008.

Newman’s mind was elsewhere.

He wasn’t thinking about the prospects of what this internship would bring him, he was researching swimming results from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

From that moment on, Newman made a decision that would drastically alter his life upon graduating from Cornell University. Newman knew he didn’t want to enter the business world, he wanted to be a swim coach.

For Newman it all started at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux swim club in Montreal. He joined the club when he was 13 years old and never looked back. While his older brother swam at Cornell, Newman was simply waiting for his moment to swim collegiately.

“One of the main things that attracted me to college swimming in the U.S. is the atmosphere that dual meets create and conference meets create,” Newman said. “I just know the atmosphere that we get on deck at a dual meet, we pack the crowd, it’s really loud and it gets people to swim at a higher level.”

After finishing his career, Newman established himself as an all-time great at Cornell. He currently holds five school records and qualified for the NCAA championships in 2007 and 2009.


Photo Courtesy: Kristin Walker

However, behind all the records and glory are valuable lifelong lessons that college swimming taught Newman.

“What college swimming really does for swimmers is it teaches them how to be well balanced all around individuals who can really multitask; manage their time well. That really prepares them for life after collegiate sports,” Newman said.

After receiving his degree in applied economics and management, Newman began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Cornell in July 2009, only a couple of months after graduating.

Since then, Newman has raced up the coaching ladder. In July 2014, he was promoted to associate head coach and he didn’t stop there. In April 2015, Newman became part of a vital change at Cornell when he was tabbed as the head coach of the men’s team.

With Newman’s promotion came a separation of the men’s and women’s teams—a first for the program in five years.

Having served as team captain for two seasons during his swimming career at Cornell, Newman has been in a leadership position before. This exposure to a leadership role coupled with his four years of student-athlete experience prepared Newman for head coaching duties.

“You are expected to be the leader of the team,” Newman said about being a head coach. “That’s definitely something that I’ve really put a lot of thought into. How I want to present myself to the team and making sure all my actions and everything that I do reflects how I want to be seen by my team, as a leader and as a positive role model.”

Newman plans on using his experience as a swimmer and assistant coach to now lead Cornell to new heights.

“The team has shown steady improvement the past three years, which was clearly illustrated by a jump in our standings this past year. We want to continue on that track and get ourselves into the top half of the league again,” Newman said.

However, Newman believes that his swimmers, similar to Newman’s experience, will get more out of the program and university than simply fast swimming.

“Cornell has always offered a great balance between strong academics and an athletic environment that brings out the best in our athletes,” Newman said. “That is the program we will continue to provide and strive to improve for our student-athletes.”

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Author: Matthew Grillo

Matthew Grillo is completing a double major in journalism and English at Penn State. He is entering his fourth and final year on the varsity swim team. He recently competed at the 2015 NCAA Championships.

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