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Swimming and diving team gains new coach

By Lily Wageman

Section: Sports

August 21, 2015

As Brandeis Athletics enters a new year and new season, the swim team welcomes Eric Thurston as the new assistant coach and aquatics director. Thurston brings with him impressive prior experience as a collegiate swimmer and coach.

At Roger Williams University he was an All-New England performer, where he earned a B.A. in Classics. During his collegiate years he was a two-time New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) champion in the 100 yard breaststroke. He also holds the Hawks’ records in the 50, 100, and 200 yard breaststroke and was part of the school-record 400 medley relay team.

In an email to The Brandeis Hoot, Thurston said that the proudest moment of his coaching career was on his last day at his first job, when one of his 10 and Under swimmers ran up to him after practice and told him not to go because he was “the best coach ever.” Thurston said that this moment “reaffirmed that I was working in a field that I love, and that is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Currently Thurston is completing his Master’s in Kinesiology and Sports Science from the University of South Dakota, where he served as assistant coach last year, helping the Coyotes finish fourth at the Summit League Conference championship. Thurston has spent this summer at the University of Texas Longhorns Swim Camp and has coached at the Club and Masters levels.

So what are Thurston’s expectations for the Judges this year? Thurston is aware of the university’s rigorous academics; one of the reasons he chose to apply for the position was for “the opportunity to work with students who are able to get work done in the classroom and in the pool.” He knows it’s a hard job balancing the life of a student-athlete and expects his athletes to get their studying done first in order to practice and compete at a high level. He advises that time management “is imperative to having a successful athletic career.”

“First, commit yourself to excellence both in and out of the pool,” said Thurston. “Second, go to a university or college that you can see yourself at if the swimming and diving team didn’t exist. Being able to find yourself outside of the pool is a crucial step in growing up.”

During practices and meets, Thurston likes a loud and competitive atmosphere and wants his athletes to get better each and every day. He believes that swimming is a process-oriented sport and wants the swimmers and divers to “have an itch to always be better than they were yesterday.” Our swimmers and divers shouldn’t be too intimidated by his high expectations, though. Thurston also describes himself as the type who loves to laugh and smile and encourages all his swimmers to enjoy their time in the water. He acknowledges that swimming can be a monotonous sports and that “cracking a joke between sets can be just as vital as [an athlete’s] time spent swimming.”

Thurston’s enthusiasm and passion for swimming and coaching is unmistakable as he heads into his first season as assistant swim coach for the Brandeis swimming and diving team. The Judges have their first meet on Oct. 17 at Wheaton College.

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