New USC Coach Lea Maurer is Bringing a New Culture to the Trojan Pool Deck

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

We sat down with Lea Maurer, the newly named head coach of the University of Southern California. Maurer spoke to us about her plans for the Trojans moving forward, including a strong culture shift that changes both internal and external perceptions of USC Swim & Dive.

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Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

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Flo from Progressive
9 months ago

New culture? Surely you jest! Strike Two SC.

Xman
9 months ago

Was this toxic culture there when Salo was coach?

I know some of the pros wrote about problems of pool space because of water polo, I don’t know if this was the same for the swim team.

Ze Flying Goldfish
Reply to  Xman
9 months ago

At least on the mens side, domestic (and even local) recruiting greatly deteriorated during the Salo era, and it was really just a few Olympians that were able to hide that deterioration at NCAAs up until recently. Their graduations exposed the flaws, and hence the huge drop off at NCAAs the last few years. For the few top recruits USC got, Salo struggled to develop them.

Kipp obviously didn’t help matters culturally and has only himself to blame for his behavior, but he also inherited a team that was gutted from poor recruiting under Salo and probably encountered negative attitudes/behaviors that had been allowed to exist under the coach before him. Bad cultures don’t manifest overnight, and it may take… Read more »

swimphan
Reply to  Ze Flying Goldfish
9 months ago

Goldfish: Thanks for the comments that provide an articulate and informed view of the future of USC Swimming under Lea rather than snarky twitter-esque posts. I was generally impressed with Lea in the interview who brings an authentic and enthusiastic personality to the HC position. That will translate well in the living room of potential recruits and their parents. She has her own unique coach-speak isms (vernacular) but I think those would have impact on teenage or early 20’s recruits – especially elite D1 swimmers in the Transfer Portal.
I couldn’t pin down exactly how she’d implement a culture change but I think she’d like USC training and development to incorporate some of the “best practices” of other D1… Read more »

Taa
Reply to  Ze Flying Goldfish
9 months ago

I actually think Salo knew what he was doing. The school is damn expensive. Give full rides to your best swimmers and bring in some top tier foreigners. Forget about the rest they are just cannon fodder and lane fillers. Its risky with small squad and foreigners a few bad apples ruin the culture or few swimmers don’t pan out and you have a huge depth problem.

Mikeh
Reply to  Ze Flying Goldfish
9 months ago

If Salo struggled to recruit, it probably had something to do with USC being a private university that costs upwards of $65,000 per year, rather than problems on his part. People should keep that in mind.

Ze Flying Goldfish
Reply to  Mikeh
9 months ago

Mikeh, totally agree that the private school cost is a barrier for building depth. But USC is fully-funded and can give 9.9 full rides for the men (and more for the women). So the cost aspect wouldn’t be relevant for the top-end talent, especially if we agree with Taa and only give full rides to the very best.

If USC was getting 5th-9th at NCAAs behind some stars while lacking the needed depth to place top 4 or better, it is totally valid to say the private school cost was an impediment to that goal. But USC doesn’t even have those stars now – basically the entire NCAA scoring output this year was a 5th year transfer. If you… Read more »

DLswim
9 months ago

What a great interview! I would have loved to have someone as grounded, empathetical, and knowledgeable as her as my coach when I swam competitively! Congratulations USC!

swimphan
Reply to  DLswim
9 months ago

Great interview with Lea at the USC Uytengsu Aquatics Center on campus. But a few hundred yards away at the USC football practice facility comes these culture change tidbits describing observations on the field regarding the needed culture change brought by the new Football HC: Energy, Intelligence and Electric. Go and do likewise!

K chilly
9 months ago

Having been a part of the SoCal community and the swimming community I think USC could become a powerhouse if they improved their culture. Many SoCal swimmers want to swim at USC but go elsewhere because the reputation USC has earned throughout the years. As a lifelong Trojan fan I hope Lea can turn the program around. Fight On

swimphan
9 months ago

I’m pressed for time now and need a “Cliffs Notes” summary of the nearly 20 minute interview with Lea. It’s easy to talk about changing the culture and use coach-speak but hard to implement. Specifically: how do you implement a performance culture without being a toxic personality?

sam
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

it helps not being Mr. Kipp or a man,

Jeff
Reply to  sam
9 months ago

So…. only men are toxic now?

DMSWIM
Reply to  sam
9 months ago

Why do you say it helps not being a man? I’ve seen plenty of male coaches who successfully foster a positive environment (and sadly plenty of female coaches who didn’t).

Onling
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

You’re a lea hater, saw you on the last post. Man’s needs to chill

SCCOACH
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

Just don’t have a toxic personality?

DMSWIM
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

You can have standards and hold people accountable without shouting or resorting to personal attacks or fits of violence. A lot of people are well motivated by positive reinforcement and swimming for a coach who believes in them and genuinely cares about their well being.

SwimmySwammy
Reply to  DMSWIM
9 months ago

I think a huge piece of it is knowing your athletes and what motivates them. I’ve coached for a long time and had athletes that needed more of a tough love approach and others that needed a lot more hand holding type of support. Coaches are part therapist/psychologists and need to work with their athletes to form a cohesive team where people feel valued and can share what is going on with them. Having high standards and holding athletes to them, making them accountable, etc. is easier when they feel respected and buy. All that said, you can absolutely be tough, have consequences, discipline, and so forth.

Power Trip Wednesdays
Reply to  SwimmySwammy
9 months ago

Nobody needed what Jeremy Kipp was handing out. Anybody who needed that kind of coaching probably has some things that they need to work out with an actual therapist/psychologist.

Cate
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

Cliffs notes? Other people do your work for you? Come back later.

Werner Swimzog
Reply to  swimphan
9 months ago

Yeah, can’t you edit this down and put it on TikTok?

CanSwim13
9 months ago

A water bottle free pool deck

Time For Barta To Go
Reply to  CanSwim13
9 months ago

It never gets old. Kick on

tnp101
9 months ago

Love the interview. She is great and I can’t stop smiling listening to her talk. Go Lea!

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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