Competitor Coach of the Month: Lea Maurer

Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

The USC Trojans have been on fire through the early portions of the NCAA season, and that was on full display two weeks ago at the Texas Invitational.

Led by head coach Lea Maurer, the Trojans had impressive performances across the board in Austin, including the women’s team earning NCAA ‘A’ cuts in all five relays.

Freshman Minna Abraham has been a sensation so far in her collegiate career, highlighted by hitting a new PB of 1:41.38 to rank #2 in the NCAA in the 200 free at the Texas Invitational, while sophomore Hannah Kuechler and grad student Vasilissa Buinaia have also been welcome surprises as top performers thus far for the women’s team.

That trio played a prominent role in the success of the team’s relays, and Buinaia led all female USC swimmers with 55 individual points, including wins in the 50 free and 100 free.

Justina Kozan and Claire Tuggle also had time drops at the meet, with Kozan notably setting a pair of massive best times in the 400 IM (4:03.25) and 500 free (4:38.47). Tuggle led off the 800 free relay in a PB of 1:44.54 in the 200 free, and she also got down to 4:10.33 for a lifetime best in the 400 IM.

Prior to the Texas Invite, the women had a strong start to the month of November, roaring to back-to-back wins over Arizona and ASU.

The men’s side, which lost a close meet with the Wildcats on Nov. 3 before getting handily beaten by the Sun Devils the following day, has been led by freshman Krzysztof Chmielewski, who currently ranks #1 in the nation in the 1650 free and also sits 4th in the 200 fly and 8th in the 500 free by virtue of his swims at Texas.

They also had Artem Selin set best in the 50 free (19.12) and 100 free (42.94), while Chris O’Grady recorded a lifetime best of 51.53 in the 100 breast.

All of this success doesn’t even include the continued impressive performances from Kaitlyn Dobler, who ranks #2 in the NCAA in the women’s 100 breast and #3 in the 200 breast.

USC has put itself in a good place at this point in the campaign, and carrying this momentum into 2024 and ultimately the postseason will be crucial as they aim to move up the pecking order in the NCAA.

About Competitor Swim

Since 1960, Competitor Swim® has been the leader in the production of racing lanes and other swim products for competitions around the world. Competitor lane lines have been used in countless NCAA Championships, as well as 10 of the past 13 Olympic Games. Molded and assembled using U.S. – made components, Competitor lane lines are durable, easy to set up and are sold through distributors and dealers worldwide.

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Panic Breaststroke
3 months ago

She’s a top ten coach right now. Name 9 others.

3 months ago

Former USC Swimmer here who transferred due to reasons regarding my major, NOT ATHLETICS. Lea is a coach who knows how to get the best out of athletes. She has a very strict coaching style, and she gets hate for that, but it works for people who thrive in an environment with a lot of structure. Those who cannot handle it either transfer or are asked to leave.

Reply to  Anonymous
3 months ago

Thanks, Lea!

Reply to  Anonymous
3 months ago

least obvious lea burner

PA Swammer
3 months ago

Never understood the Lea Mauer hate. Has been transforming USC rather quickly and has some of the fastest swimmers in the country to show for it. And not only are they fast, they’re IMPROVING, which is a common knock against other high level coaches who people claim to just be great recruiters.

Reply to  PA Swammer
3 months ago

It’s the transformative women coaches that get the most hate. Some folks just don’t like strong women.

Reply to  daimo
3 months ago

While that may be true for many of the posters who trash women coaches (sadly), the other factor here is that she essentially assumed the helm because The Water Bottle Placekicker got the boot. Not that she didn’t deserve the promotion, but we’ll never know because USC didn’t have much of a choice.

Jealously = Haters

Reply to  PA Swammer
3 months ago

The men could barely make winter junior cuts last year…

3 months ago

This is a joke right?

3 months ago

what the heck

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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