East Carolina has announced the hiring of Christa Saunders as a new assistant coach with their varsity swimming & diving program. She fills the spot left open when assistant coach John Newell departed the program.
The hire is somewhat of a unique one as it makes ECU one of the few programs in the country to have two female assistants on staff. She joins a swimming staff led by head coach Matthew Jabs and including associate head coach Kate Moore and head assistant coach Kevin Woodhull-Smith.
“It became apparent early in our search that Christa would be one of our top candidates,” Jabs said. “Her organization, attention to detail really stood out. Her belief and focus on detailed work in the water, with a demand on effort and accountability fits right in with the identity we are building here within the program. I’m excited to add her to our staff and am looking forward to the opportunity to work with her this season.”
Saunders spent the last 2 seasons as an assistant coach at UConn. During her time there, the men’s & women’s teams broke 27 school records and won 4 AAC event titles.
The hiring brings Saunders back to her old collegiate stomping grounds. She swam at William & Mary from 2013 through 2015, and after a career-ending shoulder surgery spent her last 2 seasons (2015-2017) ass a student assistant with William & Mary. East Carolina is about 3 hours south of William & Mary.
“In intercollegiate swimming, every coach regardless of position on the staff, plays a role in team, and student-athlete’s success,” Jabs stated. “Christa got a head start on her coaching career due to her injury. She took what most would consider an unfortunate circumstance and turned it into an advantageous opportunity. She has shared the pool deck with some very good coaches and worked with successful programs. I believe she will add some new ideas to the pool deck, and be a tremendous asset in recruiting.”
Among those who spoke up on her behalf is her old coach and boss at William & Mary, and the new head coach at Princeton, Matt Crispino.
“East Carolina hit a home run with this hire,” Princeton Head Coach Matt Crispino said. “I’ve known Christa for almost 10 years and have watched her develop into a fantastic young coach with a bright future. She has the values, work ethic, and expertise that will make her a valuable asset for the ECU Swimming and Diving program.”
The AAC women finished 6th out of 6 teams at last year’s AAC Championships, 128 points behind Saunders’ UConn team. The ECU men were 2nd out of 4 teams, beating UConn by 173 points.