PHOENIX, Arizona, October 1. GREG Meehan joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show a few weeks after landing the job as head women's coach at Stanford University.
Though Meehan was not actively looking to leave his position as associate head coach at UC-Berkeley, he said the opportunity was not one to pass up, even though it meant getting to work quickly on acclimating to the team and learning the ropes in just a couple of weeks before the team started classes. He talks about the feeling of being the coach at Stanford, what it is like to follow in the footsteps of past coaches and what his main goal is for this season. Having traveled to London to coach one of the Cal swimmers at the Olympics, Meehan relives the experience of seeing Nathan Adrian perform well in London. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Monday, October 8th, 2012. I am your host Jeff Commings. Today in the FINIS Monitor, we will talk to Stanford Women's Swimming Head Coach Greg Meehan. He has been on the job for about 5 weeks now and he just led the Cardinal to a victory in his first dual meet at Stanford. Greg joins us now from Palo Alto. Greg, welcome to the show, how you doing?
Greg Meehan: I am doing well. Thanks Jeff. Thank you for having me.
Jeff: Great to have you. So congratulations on this new job, it must feel pretty good to be the head coach of a major university.
Greg: It is a pretty amazing opportunity and I am, you know I have been so blessed with having the right people in my life at the right time to help me get to this point and you know I am just. I am never going to forget that and never going to forget all the people that helped me get here and now that I am here I am just so excited about the future of the program.
Jeff: Now before you took this job as many people know you were Assistant Coach and then Associate Head Coach at UC Berkeley so when this — had you been thinking about being a head coach somewhere when this opportunity came about?
Greg: Well I think in the back of my mind it was always the possibility of, you know when I would make that next step, but it wasn't actively looking. I obviously had a very good situation at Cal and things were going well and Dave is a fantastic person to work with and a fantastic coach and learned a lot from him and at some point I knew you know there would be a time to make the switch. And it just happened to be this summer as I got back from London and received a call from the athletic department over here at Stanford and kind of started along that process with them. Everything happened really, really quickly after that.
Jeff: Yeah, how do you feel now about being at a school that was once your rival for so many years?
Greg: Well you know I think when I got here it was so busy that I haven't had a lot of time to really reflect on that and just kind of hit the ground running with all the different things that needed to be done. When you start in late August it, you know it doesn't allow time – a lot of time for reflection. It is time to get some things done and so I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about that.
Jeff: Yeah, like I said you hit the ground running, so how challenging has it been to get acquainted with the team and kind of get everybody established in such a short amount of time?
Greg: Well, actually that part has been pretty easy. The team — well, Stanford is on the quarter system, and so we didn't have our first day of classes until a week ago Monday, so we are only in our second week of classes, so when the team came back they didn't come back to campus until kind of that second week in September and so it really allowed me kind of 2 weeks here on campus just to sort of organize and get cracking on things that needed to get done in preparation for the team's arrival. And then since they have been here it has gone really, really smoothly and I have just been so impressed by how they have approached this whole processes with having somebody new and they are just a really, really great group of women.
Jeff: How do you feel now about being a part of this long line of coaches that came before you at Stanford?
Greg: Yeah, it is, so when we had our first meet last week at, when we competed against San Jose State you know we are going through our warm ups and it was probably just a couple of minutes before the meet started, I turned to Tracy Duchac our Assistant Coach here and said this is pretty surreal isn't it? And you know you just — and sort of in that moment I just really it kind of caught me by surprise and you know I think about all the amazing student-athletes that they have had here and the amazing coaches that they have had here. You know, I wasn't in coaching when George was here, but certainly was in coaching when Richard Quick was the Head Coach of the program here and know a lot about the success when he was here and so you know a little bit of that is not necessarily intimidating, but you know you feel it. You feel that presence and you know it is definitely inspiring to work really hard to make sure that you know I want people to be really proud of the job that we are doing here and so you know thinking of all those who have been here before me, it is pretty inspiring. It keeps you motivated to get things done.
Jeff: Take us back to that first meet at San Jose State. As you said it was your first meet as coach and he said you kind of have that surreal feeling what did you see in the pool from your swimmers in terms of how you think season is going to go?
Greg: Well, I am not sure I could determine too much from that snapshot, you know, but it was great to see people race. You pick up on some different things when you see people on a racing environment as opposed to a training environment when you can kind of get a little bit more kind of setting your focus on some folks as they are moving through their races. And we talked a lot about afterwards talked a lot about sort of decisions that they make within the race and how to get better at that but you know from a long term perspective, can't really use that as a marker. I mean we only been in training for a couple of weeks and so you know it was really just good more from the perspective of seeing people race and the decisions that they make and the races as it relates to some details. That is for me that was sort of the take home.
Jeff: I want to talk real quick about you going to London. You were a coach for the Estonia team, is that correct?
Greg: That is correct, yeah.
Jeff: So you weren't a part of the U.S.A. team but I just want to kind of get your thoughts real quick about what you thought about Nathan Adrian doing so well. I know you had coached him for many years.
Greg: Yeah, the whole experience in London was amazing and I had the opportunity to go with Martin Liivamagi who was a senior last year at Cal and while I was there was helping the other Cal guys who were there with Anthony Ervin and Nathan and just seeing Nathan in that element to do what he did was pretty amazing, because he does things the right way in all aspects of his life and he is a good person. He is a hard worker. He is an amazing student and he is just really thoughtful about the things that he does in his life and so that was really, really nice moment and I know I got to catch up with Dave later on that evening and you know to sit back and really enjoy that moment with him as well was very special.
Jeff: Well, enough about talking about you as a coach. I want to go back to your days as a student-athlete at Rider University and when I was looking at some stuff and looking at kind of the events you swam, the 200 back seem to always stand out. Was that your best event?
Greg: It was. I mean I was certainly not as good as the athletes that I have coached since, but yeah that was sort of the focus of my collegiate years anyway and actually loved my student-athlete experience and that is why I got into coaching right away because I just I felt like I have had the ability to influence others like the coaches of my life that had influenced me and so I just took it from there.
Jeff: Yeah, so you pretty much became a coach right after you left there, right?
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. You know my first year out. I won't tell you how much I made but it wasn't much.
Jeff: Well, it is what every first year coach has to deal with. So you were studying I understand it correctly, mathematics and secondary education, so was there a plan at some point to be a high school math teacher?
Greg: I think when I first was heading into Rider the thought was to be high school math teacher and a high school coach. I knew I always wanted to coach because I always sort of been involved in coaching even when I was younger with helping out with summer leagues or doing clinics for my club team and you know it just pretty early in my collegiate career though I realized that I wanted to get in to coaching and their you know at that point. I was too far into my path from an education perspective to change that, but I did learn a lot through those education courses about just sort of about dealing with people and working with people and that you know I wouldn't necessarily trade that either so.
Jeff: Yeah so the college education didn't completely go to waste. I am sure you use a lot of your secondary education knowledge for the other with teenagers and young adults now.
Jeff: All right so tell me what you have as a goal for Stanford Women's team this season?
Greg: Well I think, we as a group kind of the first meeting that we talked about was how we'll define success this year and I don't know that we are going to define it by the number of points that we score at the Pac-12 Championships or the NCAA Championships. Those are going to be really important and that is going to be the focus of our training and our preparation. But, I think this first year really it is time to really learn a lot about each other, to have a mutual level of respect for each individual and understanding that we all have our little differences and to respect those differences and understand what everyone's role is on the team and really you know I talk about making decisions as it related to the meet against San Jose State, but really it is how they make decisions academically, socially and certainly within you know within the confines of our aquatic center. And you know at the end of the day I want to be able to take a step back and define our success really before we even start our competition season. I want to be able to you know to look at our group and feel like we have come a long way and that we are in a really good spot to move forward in the future. You know I definitely learned over the last 4 years that you have to respect the process of things and making sure that you are doing things the right way from the beginning, and the team here has really embraced that and I have been really pleased.
Jeff: Well it is great that you are getting off to a great start, Greg, and I am sure not just everybody here at Swimming World but everybody across the country is really anxious to see how you do in this first year. So again, congratulations with the new job and we will see you on deck soon.
Greg: Thank you so much and thanks again for having me.
Jeff: Our pleasure Greg, see you soon.
Jeff: All right so Greg Meehan joining us in the FINS Monitor and that will wrap up today's Morning Swim Show. We invite you to post your thoughts on today's show by going to swimmingworld.com as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. I'm Jeff Commings. Thanks for watching.
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