PHOENIX, Arizona, May 16. KENYON College has a new head coach of the men's and women's swim teams in Jess Book, who talks about his goals on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show.
Book is an alumnus of Kenyon, so he knows the high standards the Lords and Ladies have used over the years to be a major force in the Division III level. He talks about how his time at Ohio State University will help the team at Kenyon, and shares his thoughts on the landscape of Division III swimming in the past few years. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Peter Busch: This is the Morning Swim Show for Wednesday, May 16th, 2012. I am your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS Monitor today we will talk to Jess Book. He is the new Head Swim Coach for the Men's and Women's Teams at Kenyon [College], and Coach Book joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Gambier, Ohio. Coach welcome to the Morning Swim Show, how are you?
Jess Book: I am well Peter. Yourself?
Peter Busch: Good. You got some big shoes to fill there Jim Steen was a heck of a coach for almost 4 decades.
Jess Book: That is true and that is something that I have heard a lot from alumni, friends and coworkers last week or so. And it is something that I thought a lot about before I actually looked at Kenyon as a head coaching opportunity for me when I came on as a women's head coach as well and I think that in the end it is something that I am excited about and not really scared of. It is something that Kenyon, to me, has always been the place that I wanted to coach, so it is the place that I feel that you can achieve the most as a student and as an athlete and the opportunity to be here supersedes any of those challenges to live up to another person's record. And I think if you also look back at the success at Kenyon, it has never been about historical trends or traditions. It has always been about maximizing each season at its highest level and I think that for us in the Kenyon swimming that will hold true as well. It is about making the most of who we are at any given season and at any given day.
Peter Busch: Well you have certainly learned from Coach Steen.
Jess Book: Absolutely.
Peter Busch: You swam under him. You have coached under him and now I mean I am sure you will bring some of the same stuff but it is exciting to have some new perspective as well and you can hopefully bring that to Kenyon.
Jess Book: Absolutely. A lot of who I am as a coach has been shaped by Coach Steen. He is a tremendous mentor. I worked here as an assistant coach for 4 years with him as well in addition to being a swimmer on his team, and a lot of who I am, a lot of my core values, a lot of things that I believe essentially for success in life and in swimming are things that he helped instill in me and so that is absolutely the truth as well. But I also had the opportunity to coach for 4 years at Ohio State with Bill Wadley in the men's team there and a lot of especially a lot of things I do in the training realm I have been influenced by Bill and the Buckeye program. And so I think I am probably a bit of Coach Steen, I am a bit of Bill Wadley and I am certainly a large portion of myself when it comes to the program that we have here at Kenyon and the program we will have as we move forward.
Peter Busch: Tell us some of the stuff that you took from that bigger program, bigger conference, bigger vision at Ohio State that you can apply now?
Jess Book: Yeah, again I think it is– a lot of it is training. I think that they way that we work with the student-athletes here at Kenyon and the personal relationships we build are unique and special to Kenyon. In many ways I think that is our greatest asset. But in terms of how to train athletes to find their highest level of performance, many of those things will be influenced by things I learned at Ohio State, whether it is technical suggestions — Coach Wadley is an incredible technician — or training paradigms through both him and Coach Dorenkott at Ohio State. The use of outer work whether it is strength or dry land, they do some innovative creative things there, but I think can really help athletes maximize their physical potential. And so some of our training methodologies will be drawing upon some of the things that we get at Ohio State that I thought were highly effective, but at the same time we also are going to do a lot of things at Kenyon that are historical to Kenyon in terms of training as well. I mean it is definitely a very unique place, a very unique program and I think we have the opportunity to kind of blend both the best of the big time Division I environment with the wonderful rich intellectual environment of a small college like Kenyon.
Peter Busch: And a nice facility as we can see behind you.
Jess Book: We are very blessed to have this facility. I think it opened in January of '06. It is a beautiful, beautiful pool of 50 meters by 25 yards but it is also aesthetically … We have a wall of windows that you can see kind of behind me on this side and we have another wall windows in the far end of the pool that really kind of opened the facility up to the campus and given the swimmers the opportunity to kind of appreciate life outside the pool rather than just being trapped in those concrete boxes that we are so used to.
Peter Busch: And vice versa. When it is snowing outside in you are doing backstroke and you are like, I am glad I am inside.
Jess Book: Right.
Peter Busch: Well, Kenyon has been the gold standard in Division II swimming for a generation, but the dynasty run of National Championships has ended recently on the men's side.
Jess Book: Sure.
Peter Busch: Is there–how do you take a positive from that?
Jess Book: I think it is a– and I know you interviewed Zack Turk maybe a week and a half ago 2 weeks ago one of our graduating senior sprinters has been phenomenal here at Kenyon. It is a lot about what he said is very true and what we really found in Division III over the course of the last 10 years especially is the level of competition has gotten a whole lot better. The division is actually a very competitive division. If you look at the top-end performers son the men's side and on the women's side you will routinely find people that can compete at the elite level in division I. I think Zack specifically would have placed — I think it was third at the division I championships this year in the 50 freestyle. We had two men's relays that would have been top 8 in division I championships and we have women routinely that can qualify for division I championships as well and so I think if you are looking at what has changed dramatically in Division 3 over the course of the last 10 to 15 years is the level of competitiveness of the student athletes that choose to come to swim at a place like Kenyon has grown immeasurably and that has been exciting. It has been exciting to see records go up, records come down to see people come in to the league that can really do world class style swimming in a place like Kenyon.
Peter Busch: Well it should only make your teams better, right?
Jess Book: Right, right and again we are seeing improvement. If we look at our record boards they are continuing to see improvement and records are continuing to come down. It just it is in the context of a much more competitive division, which is extremely exciting.
Peter Busch: Why do you think more excellent swimmers are choosing Division III schools?
Jess Book: That is a pretty complicated question, I am not sure if I can say I certainly can't say for each student-athlete, but I think that there is a desire to have the opportunity to swim at the NCAA championships. A desireto have the opportunity to be on a competitive team, a desire to have an opportunity to really be part of this academic athletic environment that the Division III model allows for and I think it is also partly responsible or partly described by some of the changes in Division I landscape. You know things specifically about men's programs in the state of Ohio we have lost and I don't know for sure maybe 5 or 6 men's programs in the last 10 years, and so the opportunities for Division I competition have gone down. And so some of those students athletes that might have looked at a place like Ohio University on men's side may not be looking at a place like Kenyon instead.
Peter Busch: Well coach we wish you the best of luck and hopefully you will be there for 37 years too.
Jess Book: I do too. This is my dream job Peter there is nowhere else I want to be and there is nowhere else I want to coach.
Peter Busch: All right we will talk to you later.
Jess Book: Thank you.
Peter Busch: All right, that is Coach Jess Book joining us from Kenyon University that is it for today's show. I am Peter Bush reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.
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