Coaching Corner: A Sit Down With DIII’s Top Coaches – Dawn Dill

by Hannah Saiz 15

September 27th, 2013 College, NCAA Division III, News

I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the coaches of the top three teams from NCAAs last year for both the men and women. We spoke a bit about their interest in coaching Division III, their respective colleges, and then turned to discuss the upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Courtesy of MIT Athletics

Courtesy of MIT Athletics

Dawn Dill, Head Coach MIT (2013 Men’s Third Place). Coach Dill enters her 10th season as Head Coach for the Engineers after being away on maternity leave last season. In 2012, she guided the Engineers to a fourth place finish at the NCAA championship. Dill is a 1996 graduate of Smith where she swam breaststroke and was named the New England Swimmer of the Year.

 

Why DIII?

I was a Division III swimmer and many of the life lessons and qualities that I gained swimming at Smith carried over to my coaching philosophy. In Division III, you can take the approach of coaching the whole person, not just athletically, but helping them develop and create leadership skills. As coaches we have enough time to really put our efforts into getting them to be fast in the pool, but the goal is to have folks graduate and be really proud of themselves as people.

 

Why MIT?

Some of these kids are really changing the world. We had a swimmer this past summer work on developing a medication that’s going to target breast cancer. She was one of the first researchers, being a huge part of the medication development. It’s incredible. The education here is focused on engineering, science and math. The qualities they come in with are a love of learning and intense curiosity in how things work. The collaborative style applies to the real world. They are encouraged to not think that anything has a limitation; that “anything is possible.” It’s ingrained in them at MIT that they can do anything. If a class or a club isn’t there, let’s go ahead and make it happen. That carries over to training. Our swimming is modeled after the MIT way – it’s about opportunities and pushing to extremes and benefiting the whole person for the greater good.

 

What are you excited for this year?

We have the way our calendar works shuffled around this year. In January we have our Williams and Amherst meets back to back. That’ll mimic what it’s like at NCAAs when it all happens in the morning. It’s about learning how to get up and swim fast again. I think it’s one of those weekends when a lot of the toughness of the team will shine through, coming out of double days. Hardcore work ethic going into the weekend, and then grinding it out.

 

What are the freshmen like?

We have a really nice, smaller group of freshmen – eight men and eight women. A little on the smaller side of us. They are complimenting my returners. Any holes we had last year, the freshman class is going to be able to fill out. We have this crazy breaststroke lineup, and a couple freshmen adding in to the men’s side. Women’s side – events we were weak in we’re adding in. Sprint relays are going to be very strong.

 

What’s different this year?

I’m a big believer in beg-borrow-steal. One of the things that’s exciting for the program is adding another full-time position – associate head coach. That’s new for us. We’ve only had one full time coach and part time volunteer. Two full time folks on deck will be great. It’ll allow us to do more underwater film analysis, talk more about race strategy. With a year off last year, I had more time to think about dryland, and apply what we’re doing in dryland to the water to make it a little more seamless. Adding that full time position will mean more mentoring, meeting one-on-one to talk about goals. I think that’s so important. It’s hard, with so many people vying for attention.

 

Other Interviews:
Jon Howell
Jess Book
Gregg Parini

15
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

15 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
beachair
8 years ago

Incidentally, it reminds me of what some football coach once said: “we base our financial aid on need; whether or not we need the player.”

beachair
8 years ago

I didn’t meant for my original statement to appear with the MIT summary, since I am aware of their entry requirements (see Caltech). However, it is not a secret among hardworking D3 coaches that the linchpin for attracting a top tier recruit is creative financial aid from other D3 institutions.
Ask your collegues who recruit ethically, and open the books on some of the teams who are suspect. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors, and I, unfortunately, know that as a fact.
I didn’t mean to piss anyone off, but I did want to open your eyes to what is really going on.
Certainly swimmers get faster, but you have to realize that a lot of… Read more »

mxskier
9 years ago

D3 has gotten faster because all of swimming has gotten faster and significantly deeper. That is why D3 is no longer “D3,” because it no longer resembles the average club swimmer that wants to enjoy swimming in college, it is now a more legitimate level for college swimming.

BroBrown, I have to say that your speculation is fairly offensive. To suggest that the best D3 programs need to resort to rule breaking to offer financial incentive to go to one of these institutions is terrible, and unless you can provide actual evidence, unfounded speculation.

MIT, Williams, Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC schools, Hopkins, Wash U, Emory… these institutions are amongst the best undergraduate institutions in the world. They… Read more »

BroBrown
Reply to  mxskier
9 years ago

No, MXSKIER, I only suggested that it would be an interesting story for SwimSwam to look into. I did not say it was true. What I did say is that it is almost certainly NOT true at MIT, and I did provide some evidence for that from their website.

Your getting offended is also without any basis. I just asked a question, and it is one I have heard raised before by many others.

As for your statement, “to suggest that students choose schools like MIT over a mid-tear [sic] D1 program because of finances is crazy”, I have to ask – who suggested that? I think you need to calm down and read more carefully.

And… Read more »

BroBrown
Reply to  BroBrown
9 years ago

Left out the word “coaches” in the prior response:

“as to whether DIII (or Ivy League DI, for that matter, but I think less likely) COACHES are involved in getting “academic” (non-financial need based) scholarships for swimmers, and if so, whether there are requirements to swim attached to those “academic” scholarships.”

As many other people have noted previously, you could also compare the incoming academic credentials of swimmers receiving academic scholarships in schools, if any where it happens, to non-athletes getting the same scholarship at the same school.

mxskier
Reply to  BroBrown
9 years ago

Sorry BroBrown, I meant to type in Beachair where I typed your name (phone keyboard…)

My main reply was to this comment: “The point is: it’s not the innocent, level playing field that it is supposed to be. Recruiting and attracting better athletes are still the easiest ways to make a coach look better. The true D3 no longer exists and that’s an injustice to the swimmers and coaches who compete at the institutions who abide strictly by the D3 financial and admissions policies.
It makes me a little ill to hear some of these coaches talk about building talent and academics, when so many of us know what really goes on behind the curtain.”

I want to know… Read more »

D3 parent
Reply to  mxskier
9 years ago

The Ivies, NESCAC schools and MIT only issue need based financial aid. If you are smart, fast and relatively poor, it is a terrific deal for financial aid. You need excellent grades super test scores to qualify and the swimmers are getting faster every year at these schools.

Dan Scholman
9 years ago

D-III still exists in the NESCAC. Beachair, your point is well-taken re: what D-III has become. Look to the 11 schools in the NESCAC as examples of the original idealistic philosophy of Division III.
Also, MIT’s recent success should be at least partially credited to Sam Pitter – no mention of her here is a bit remiss!

brobrown
Reply to  Dan Scholman
9 years ago

I believe there are no pure academic scholarships that could be used to recruit swimmers to MIT. Their academic scholarships are only given to those who qualify for financial aid, and then qualify for the scholarship. Some verbiage from MIT:

“If you’re interested in receiving an MIT scholarship for undergraduate study, you need to apply for MIT financial aid each year. MIT awards all undergraduate financial aid on the basis of your family’s financial need, so if you qualify for financial aid, you’ll automatically be considered for an MIT scholarship.”

That’s why the only academic scholarship you see frequently among MIT swimmers is the National Merit Scholarship, which is $2500 one time and based on the PSAT they… Read more »

BroBrown
Reply to  brobrown
9 years ago

I should clarify. In general, schools do not need to restrict academic scholarships to those with financial need like MIT, and possibly Harvard, do.

A better question might be whether the swim coach was involved in recommending an applicant for the academic scholarship, and whether keeping the academic scholarship is dependent on remaining on the swim team (rather than just maintaining grade point average above a certain level).

If swimming and the swim coaches have no influence on awarding or retaining the academic scholarship, then it is probably a legitimate academic scholarship.

But others have suggested different ways of getting at whether athletes are getting academic scholarships more for athletics than academics. Regardless, I hope SwimSwam writers… Read more »

beachair
9 years ago

The point is: it’s not the innocent, level playing field that it is supposed to be. Recruiting and attracting better athletes are still the easiest ways to make a coach look better. The true D3 no longer exists and that’s an injustice to the swimmers and coaches who compete at the institutions who abide strictly by the D3 financial and admissions policies.
It makes me a little ill to hear some of these coaches talk about building talent and academics, when so many of us know what really goes on behind the curtain.

beachair
9 years ago

Before you start patting these D3 coaches on the back and listening to their so-called approaches to success, you should realize that it’s becoming less and less of a secret that many of the top ten D3 teams have very generous arrangements through their respective financial aid offices. Do you think that the influx of very talented swimmers over the past decade is the result of a telephone call and a campus visit?
I would hazard a guess that anyone with a little accounting background would have a field day checking the books with the amount of money and “financial aid based on need and academic merit” are administered at some of these schools.

Reply to  beachair
9 years ago

While I think you bring up a valid point that there may be some money coming forward to the swimmers in less traditional ways than athletic scholarships, D3 is still a different animal than D1 swimming. The coaches have to make these athletes successful in and out of the pool and at the end of the day they have different financial, academic, and time constraints than many D1 teams do. I don’t believe any of this takes away from their approaches to success. Recruiting specific athletes to your school is only the first piece in having a successful team

Swim
Reply to  beachair
8 years ago

This comment is absolutely absurd. All I can say is that as a member of this swim team I definitely receive no special financial aid. MIT’s financial aid system is COMPLETELY need based, and isn’t very good at that. When I received my financial aid statement before committing to come here I had to have a serious talk about the benefits of an MIT education. I could’ve saved a lot of money by going to a state school, but I chose to come here because I love it here. It’s shameful to say that we’re lured here by money; we’re lured here by the chance to be the best in whatever we want to do. Swimming was not a decision… Read more »

9 years ago

this is for sure a program to watch. Wyatt Ubellacker made the A final in the 50 fly and the B final in the 50 free at nationals WC Trials this year! He has now graduated but they will be looking for the next person to make their mark on a national level.

About Hannah Saiz

Hannah Saiz fell into a pool at age eleven and hasn't climbed out since. She attended Kenyon College, won an individual national title in the 2013 NCAA 200 butterfly, and post-graduation has seen no reason to exit the natatorium. Her quest for continued chlorine over-exposure has taken her to Wisconsin …

Read More »