Swim season starts off with a splash

The Guilford College swim team dives into a new season strong with a new face commanding the squad, leading the team to their first victory in four years.

Ashley Cox, a local club coach for the Green Valley Summer Swim and an assistant coach and director of communications for the Greensboro Swimming Association, was named the head coach of the Quakers prior to the 2016 campaign.

The Quakers earned their first win of the season, and their first win since 2012, against Greensboro College on Oct. 22, 76-54.

“(Coach Cox) came in strong, and the season has been much better than last year,” said junior swimmer Isabel Gutierrez. “I think she has experience coaching and brings a lot of her knowledge to play when she writes out our practices. We are a small team, so she gives each and everyone of us the attention we need to improve.”

Gutierrez played a strong role in their victory, winning the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:18.43 and placing third in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:18.76.

First-year swimmer Carolyn O’Halloran won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 27.19 seconds. O’Halloran’s roommate and fellow first-year swimmer Ali Augustine along with sophomore Kate Nunke and Gutierrez placed second in the 200-yard team medley with a time of 2:10.44.

The first-year swimmers saw some difficulty moving to the college level but have experienced tremendous success under Cox.

“One of my biggest difficulties moving on to the college level was the amount of time and energy that was going to be taken up while doing the sport,” said O’Halloran. “But, honestly, I feel I have improved greatly from coach Cox because my times have decreased significantly. I feel that my technique in the water has gotten stronger.”

Augustine also commented on Cox’s ability to make her swimmers better.

“She is focused on each individual swimmer, and she works to push everyone to their full potential,” said Augustine. “She is kind and sweet to all of us but also has all of our respect at the same time.”

Cox is the fourth coach in the College’s history and is an American Swimming Coaches’ Association Level II certified coach. Cox holds records at the Grandover Swim & Racquet Club and competes as a Masters swimmer, an open-water competitor and triathlete.

The team is small in size with only six swimmers currently on the active roster. However, this has contributed to their chemistry as a squad.

“We are a small team, but I think it has helped us all connect,” said Augustine. “Since I’m rooming with Carolyn, we had each other going into our first collegiate swim season.”

Despite this, the team is still looking to expand. Cox has a background in communications with a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked with RLF Communications in Greensboro to promote not only her teams, but the sport of swimming overall. Gutierrez commented on how recognition of the swim team at Guilford has grown.

“I feel like more students know about the swim team this semester than in the last two years, which is good for us,” said Gutierrez. “We still need to work on recruitment.

“This season has been going great. We are still a small team but with more people getting interested in joining. I feel like coach Cox has adapted well into the athletics program and has had better communication with people in the (athletic) department.”

The Quakers return to the water on Dec. 2 where they will compete in the Yellow Jacket Invitational hosted by Randolph-Macon College at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center in Richmond, Virginia.

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