From 2006-08, Marie Marsman was simply a graduate student at IU earning her master’s in kinesiology and helping out with the Hoosier swim team, hoping to one day find employment as a swim coach.
Two years after that, she realized her dream at her alma mater. Months after that, she and her team were crowned Big Ten Champions.
It’s been a very interesting past few months for Marsman and the Indiana swimming and diving program. In September, assistant coach Pam Swander resigned after a five-year tenure to pursue a coaching position at SwimMAC, a national training center in North Carolina.
The first meet was scheduled for Oct. 22, so a replacement needed to be found as soon as possible. Coach Ray Looze and his staff immediately knew who should fill the vacancy. They looked no further than Marsman, who had success as an assistant coach at the University of Utah.
“We also had a chance to spend two years with her when she was here as a volunteer coach, so there’s a pretty high comfort level for all of us,” Looze said. “There wasn’t even a debate among the staff as to what to do.”
Without hesitation, Marsman returned to Bloomington. In her words, she “obviously said ‘yes.’” Marsman said she found the transition only took a couple of days.
The swimmers also took very little time to adjust, especially since Marsman had worked with a couple of the swimmers during her first stop in Bloomington.
“When she was here my freshman year, she kind of had more of an assistant role rather than a coach role,” senior Titus Knight said. “She just kind of did what she was told, but now she’s really more independent.”
Marsman was a sprint freestyle swimmer at Carleton College — a Division III school in Minnesota — so she has had recent swimming experience, which the IU swimmers said they respect and learn from.
“It’s nice to have a female on board, especially one who was a swimmer not too long ago,” junior Margaux Farrell said. “She really has emphasis on attention to detail, which sometimes, in such a high-volume, high-intensity sport, can get lost. She always preaches ‘No mindless swimming. Pick something and get better today.’”
Though Looze has been coaching at IU for nine years and assistant head coaches Donny Brush and Mike Westphal have been coaching together for six years, Marsman said she already feels like she fits in with the coaching staff.
“The good thing about it is even though it’s a change in coach and I do some things differently, we really team-coach here,” Marsman said.
Swander had success with the Hoosiers while working with IU swimmers like Kate Fesenko, the 2010 NCAA Champion in the 200-yard backstroke, among other national champion swimmers.
Marsman came in with big shoes to fill but has gained the admiration of coaches thus far.
“We’re lucky to have her,” Looze said. “We really are. She’s made us better, and that’s not easy to do because she replaced somebody that did a good job, and she’s taken that and moved it to another level.”
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