With the head coach role opening up at USC, his alma mater, Indiana head coach Ray Looze‘s name quickly emerged among swimming circles as a potential candidate. In a conference call Friday, however, he said he is not pursuing the position.
“Although my alma mater means a great deal to me and I wish that they’re as successful as possible, I’ve been at Indiana 18 years now and I’m excited about where we’re going as a program,” Looze, the 10-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, said. “It’s one of the best programs in the country, presently, and we’ve got unfinished business here. I think the institution and the kids and coaches would really like to bring that national title back – so I’ll be staying here.”
Looze also addressed a number of topics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.
Like most teams, the Hoosiers have struggled to find pool space – Looze said “98-99%” of his swimmers who are dispersed around the country don’t have access. Looze floated the idea of sending swimmers cords, as well as obtaining wetsuits to encourage open water workouts.
A small group of professional swimmers secured a local private pool and are there three to four times per week. Lilly King, for example, is doing CrossFit three times per week and swimming four times, Looze said.
Looze, the United States women’s head coach for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, thinks that 2021 Worlds will happen almost directly after the Olympics. “I have a feeling a lot of those athletes will want to – and need to – do both,” he said.
Indiana is holding weekly virtual team meetings for its collegiate swimmers – “Kind of like film sessions, if you will,” Looze said. “At least to keep their minds sharp and thinking about technique, so when we return to the pool it’ll help ready us.”
“Most” outgoing Hoosier seniors have opted to retire as a result of Olympic Trials being delayed, Looze said. Among those to retire are Cassy Jernberg and All-American Shelby Koontz, while 13-time All-American and Egypt native Mohamed Samy will continue swimming and likely sign with an International Swimming League team, according to Looze.
“I’ve talked to a lot of coaches on how to counsel our kids on that,” Looze said. “I’m a big believer in moving on in life – not ‘hanging on to hang on.’ That’s just my thought process. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision, it’s up to them. It’s a bummer how it ended for a lot of the seniors. But life’s not fair and this was something bigger than anybody could have imagined, and continues to get bigger. Missing a meet is just such a minor thing now when you’re watching things unfold.”
When it comes to the discussion around giving affected student-athletes an additional year of eligibility, Looze criticized the NCAA’s approach to spring sports. The association voted to allow those student-athletes another year but said it’s up to schools to figure out how to allocate scholarship money.
“I don’t think it’s fair to institutions,” Looze said. “The NCAA has cut a tremendous amount of funding to its member institutions, and then gives spring athletes another year and says ‘It’s up to you to pay for it, and we’re not going to help you.’ That’s not working with your institutions.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it — I’m relieved. That would have been a mess,” he added.