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.
Jessen Book, Head Coach of the Lords (2013 Men’s National Champions) and Ladies (2013 Women’s National Runner-Ups) of Kenyon. Coach Book enters his second season as the Lords’ coach, and his fourth at the helm for the Ladies. Last year, he was voted CSCAA Coach of the Year for both men and women, making him the first Division III coach to receive the double honor since the combining of men’s and women’s meets. Book is a 2001 graduate of Kenyon College where he competed as a distance freestyler.
Division III is an opportunity to be a student-athlete. The athletic experience is both challenging and rewarding. Swimming in Division III is being able to enjoy a wonderful sport along with a great education, and have a lot fun doing it. I enjoy working with the student-athletes. I love how the people here are team focused, and the co-ed NCAA meet is unusual and competitive. I’ve always believed in the liberal arts education. I’ve enjoyed working with people who love swimming and who really want to think about it in ways that are passionate but also intellectual at the same time. It’s a chance to be everything. That’s what makes DIII its best – the chance to think about swimming in different and deeper ways.
Why Kenyon? Why not? It’s the place you can be all your passions. At Kenyon, you can be both challenged and supported, and pushed to become yourself. This place develops the essential qualities for life, and unique individuals. Kenyon is a place where you can test yourself. I really believe in the caliber and the quality of the people at Kenyon and believe that the people at Kenyon not only know what they are doing, but they know how to do it in a way that connects with the people they work with go out of way to provide not only an incredible education but a personalized one. I love the fact that the people at Kenyon go out of their way to help the people they work with become better – the better versions of themselves. That’s what I like best about Kenyon.
What’s most exciting for this year?
I’m excited this year for relays, but I’m ready to enjoy every swim, every opportunity. At this point, I’m always excited about the freshmen. There’s so much room for improvement. I’m excited about the returning swimmers – those who have spent a summer changing themselves in some way for the better, either physically or mentally. This year is about becoming the best team we can possibly be. Can we be a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
Any exciting freshmen?
Exciting? Absolutely. This is an exciting group! The freshman class has the ability to make a major statement. There’s a lot of opportunity in front of them. There are a lot of them. Thus far they’ve been everything I want them to be. They’re eager, they’re engaged, and they have a really open mind when it comes to Kenyon and being better. They’re going to – and this is exciting – they’re going to push our team in different directions. I want to be a team that’s always changing and flowing. Not known for any one thing, but everything. This class will help us do that.
Changes in the season?
This year we will be increasing the specialization of training more to identify what individual student-athletes need for success. Even if they swim similar events, their needs differ. We’re changing dryland this year to become more dynamic. We have made a conscious effort to do something fast nearly every session, nearly every day.