PHOENIX, Arizona, November 28. A new college swimming team is about to make its debut, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show we meet Andrew Hancock, the head coach of the University of West Florida.
Hancock talks about the responsibilities he faces in the months leading up to the women's team's debut next fall and the facilities that await the team. He also talks about the first swimmer he's signed to the team and what that could mean for future recruits interested in the school. Hancock also details his swimming background, including his time at Cleveland State University, and the swimming coach who continues to be a mentor to him. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is The Morning Swim Show for Wednesday, November 28th 2012. I'm your host, Jeff Commings. We at Swimming World love to tell you the news that a new swimming team is about to start and that's about to happen at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Today joining us in the FINIS monitor is the head coach of that team, Andrew Hancock. Andrew, good to see you, how are you today?
Andrew Hancock: I'm good. How are you?
Jeff Commings: I'm doing great. So as I said we love telling people about these new college teams that are showing up especially every year we get news about college teams falling by the wayside. So tell us the history of how this swim team got started at the University of West Florida.
Andrew Hancock: Well I mean it just kind of evolved. The university's in a pretty heavy growth phase and the Athletic Department is growing along with that. We have an indoor 50-meter pool here, probably one of the better facilities in the state. It's never had a college team so the Athletic Department decided they wanted to add a women's sport and I guess in kind of seeing what they had facilities-wise and seeing the connection obviously with the sport in the State of Florida that in their wisdom they chose swimming to add.
Jeff Commings: Well I'm sure you probably jumped at the opportunity to be able to start a team from the ground up. What are your expectations for this team when it starts next fall.
Andrew Hancock: You know I think the teams here are very successful, very competitive, and so the long term expectation is I would think hopefully we can have an impact or at least an influence in the national level. In the short term, next year, I think we just want to have fun with it and get good people and lay kind of a good culture, put a good culture in place so that even if we have to grow the fast swimming a little bit over the years at least the fast swimmers will come into the right environment to help them succeed. It's going to be kind of fun. Obviously we've been talking to a lot of people on the phone and just kind of getting the word out there and the thing I always say is we don't really know what's going to happen which is kind of scary and exciting all at the same time.
Jeff Commings: And you've already got your first swimmer signed for your next season. Tell us about being able to recruit her.
Andrew Hancock: Yes, I mean one of the things that I thought and figured when I did come here is that there were probably people who were very, very good high school swimmers, just don't have a campus, and hopefully we're able to find them and incorporate them into the mold or into the team. There are definitely a lot of people who fit that category and the standout is Cheryl Corvo who we announced last week is the first official member of our team. You know Cheryl is from this area, she's from Fort Walton Beach which is about an hour away from Pensacola. Swam for a season at Florida Gulf Coast University, did great there, was on a championship team, and came back just to be a little closer to home and so she'll join us next year as a senior which personally I'm excited about because I wasn't sure if we have that kind of leadership and experience in a first year but Cheryl's just a great student, great person, she's a strong swimmer and so I think she takes all the boxes that we would have wanted in our first ever athlete.
Jeff Commings: Have you got your coaching staff all picked out yet?
Andrew Hancock: We have not, no. We'll see if we can settle on that in the summer time, we'll kind of look at the size of the team and look at who's out there so right now it's just going to be me wearing many, many hats as you could imagine.
Jeff Commings: Well I'm sure like I said the team starts next fall and I'm sure there's a lot of work to be done before then obviously filling the team with some swimmers. Tell us about some of the other things that you're going to be busy doing between now and next September or August.
Andrew Hancock: Yes, I mean recruiting is the obvious one and that ties in to just getting the word out there in general. We've been trying to get the word out there obviously to high school athletes around the state and around the country but also just the community here in Pensacola which is traditionally and historically a very strong swimming community and so just trying to get to know people that way and even expanding that down into the state so there's definitely been a lot of work just kind of behind the scenes just to help kind of get the word out there a little bit and that's I think been the primary focus, obviously there are all those little non-glamorous things that we have to do as well, we have to get the facility ready to host a college team, right now obviously it's a great body of water but we really want to make it feel like home when the athletes step on campus, we're trying to get everything into place, even basic things such as equipment ordering, things like that, just trying to start getting that ready so that when the summer time comes around we can really hit the ground running and have that all in place when the athletes arrive.
Jeff Commings: What division will the University of West Florida swim at?
Andrew Hancock: Only Division 2, Division 2 and yes, I think it's a good opportunity for us to really maybe have a good competitive situation.
Jeff Commings: Well Division 2 is always a very competitive league and I know that they're always very supportive about adding new colleges to the list of competitive teams out there so I'm sure they'll be welcoming you with open arms pretty soon.
Andrew Hancock: That seems to be the case so far. I mean obviously we've spoken to a lot of people already around the country and everyone's very supportive of us. A lot of people who are in this situation of maybe started teams in the last year or two have been very willing to give advice and it's been very, very helpful, it really makes you feel good that the people are looking at you from a competitive standpoint rather than just from a swimming as a whole standpoint that I think will be good for the sport.
Jeff Commings: Well we've been talking for a few minutes, it's kind of pretty obvious you're from Australia. Tell us about your swimming background over there.
Andrew Hancock: Well I mean I was an age group swimmer in Australia from way back and was on some state and national meets and things like that. I was fortunate to come through a time when Australian swimming was obviously pretty well known throughout the world and so I got to see kind of firsthand some of the big swimmers that we had 10 years ago such [inaudible 6:44] and watched them develop from 12 years of age and they were already still pretty good and so that was a lot of fun for me. I went in a very different direction but one that I'm very happy to have done.
Jeff Commings: And what brought you here to the United States?
Andrew Hancock: I came over to swim at Cleveland State University so I swam for four years at Cleveland State and subsequently coached there as well with my alma mater under coach Wally Morton who has been there for many, many years and definitely he's an institution there in Cleveland, no doubt about it.
Jeff Commings: I'm sure he's going to be on your speed dial a lot as you're starting up this new program looking for some advice from him.
Andrew Hancock: Absolutely, I mean what a great source of information, someone with – the number varies every now and then but definitely over four years of experience in college swimming in one capacity or another and he's definitely seen it all and someone I'm very fortunate to have his support and have someone we can turn to if we need advice so even just a chat helps you going.
Jeff Commings: What got you interested in wanting to be a coach?
Andrew Hancock: It just kind of evolved that way. I didn't originally plan to be a coach. I graduated from college and headed to Chicago to make millions on the stock market and strangely enough that plan didn't quite work out but while I was out there I got into age group swimming with the Age Group Program in Northwestern and just realized that that was part of my day I really enjoyed and really looked forward to and one thing led to another really.
Jeff Commings: Well you probably are sleeping a lot better at night now.
Andrew Hancock: A little bit, a little bit, yes.
Jeff Commings: Well Andrew I appreciate your talking to us today. We're really looking forward to seeing University of West Florida represented nationally. I know like you said you've got to start small, every team has to start small, but we're confident we'll be seeing a lot more of you on the national level pretty soon.
Andrew Hancock: I sure do hope so. Thanks so much for having me.
Jeff Commings: All right, good luck down the road.
Andrew Hancock: Thanks a lot.
Jeff Commings: All right, so that's Andrew Hancock joining us for the University of West Florida, a new team that will be starting in the fall of 2013. And that's going to do it for today's Morning Swim Show, as always we invite you to join us at swimmingworld.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. I'm Jeff Commings, thanks for watching.
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