A drastic change in the coaching staff of Ohio State has done little to affect the team’s performance thus far.
The Ohio State women’s (1-0) and men’s (1-0) swimming teams finished their first meets competing under the same coaching staff for the first time in program history last Friday with dominant wins against Kenyon women’s (0-2) and men’s (0-2) teams. The Buckeyes won gold in every event, and seemed to thrive under their new coaching staff.
The transition came following coach Bill Wadley’s retirement after 26 years at the helm of the men’s swim team. Coach Bill Dorenkott, who had previously coached the women’s team for nine years, is now the head coach for both teams.
Dorenkott believes the transition will be beneficial in the long run.
“I’m certainly biased, but I feel really good about the staff we put together and I feel like the staff is doing a very nice job of meeting our athletes’ needs,” Dorenkott said.
The change to having both teams swim as a single unit has also been smoother than initially thought, Dorenkott said. The coach said the men’s team has welcomed the change, and views it as an opportunity to grow as a team.
“I think change runs contrary to human nature. Most people gravitate toward things they know already,” Dorenkott said. “The fact the men have fully embraced the change because I had worked with the women for nine years is really pretty remarkable.”
Senior Jack Barone believes the combination of teams has the potential to bring about new possibilities.
“I think the coaches put a lot of focus on individualizing everything, kind of seeing what each swimmer needs,” Barone said. “Something we were all really excited about was getting a little more specialized training-wise and just in general.”
Sophomore Molly Kowal found the transition to training with the men’s team challenging at first, but said it has ultimately helped the women.
Kowal added that the union of men’s and women’s teams under Dorenkott has built a bond between the two teams, as the personal connections have provided overwhelming support during competition.
“They definitely push the girls more in practice, because obviously the guys are going to be the better swimmers,” Kowal said. “So, they’re just pushing the girls to try harder and to try to keep up with them, which is helpful.”
Although Dorenkott has added the men’s team to his list of responsibilities, he has not changed his coaching philosophy that he takes to leading his players during the week in practice since he was just coach of the women’s team. His weekly routine focuses on the preparation needed for competition.
While Dorenkott believes the outcomes of each meet cannot be predetermined, he said the week of practices leading up to the competition can provide a glimpse of what’s to come.
“When you talk about winning, you can’t control that,” Dorenkott said. “So, we can only prepare, control the effort we put into it. So, game day coaching, there’s not a lot of adjustments to be made in swimming. It’s kind of just managing the actual game day process, whether that’s warming up, warming down, giving a little bit of feedback.”
The changes to the team’s operation have been positively received thus far, but Dorenkott said there is still work to be done. He said the team’s attention to detail will need to improve in order to compete later in the season. Dorenkott cited a relay disqualification in last week’s meet against Kenyon, in which a swimmer left the block before the previous swimmer touched the wall, as an example of where the team could clean its technique.
The Buckeyes will hope to begin cleaning up the small details of their swims against Denison and Akron at 6 p.m. Friday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The men will compete against Denison, while the women will swim against Denison and Akron.
“Everything’s a lead-up or a build-up to [the postseason in] February and March,” Dorenkott said. “A good book has 10 unique chapters, it’s not the same chapter again and again and again. So, we want to be early-November good against Denison and Akron and we want to be late-November good when the [Ohio State Invitational] comes along. Hopefully, we’re cleaning up the things we need to clean up based on feedback we’re getting from meets.”