SAU Buzz

Diving into a new year

by Kaylee Golden
Posted on Nov 30, 2017

The new St. Ambrose University swimming and diving team is continuing to make waves during its inaugural season. In the fall semester of 2016, swimming and diving head coach Rob Mieznikowski came into his new position with a lot of experience and a lot of excitement.

“I started competitive swimming when I was 5.  I swam club, high school, for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, then I went to grad school at the University of Iowa and assisted coaching.” Mieznikowski said. “The longest break I’ve ever had was 6 months and that was just 6 months in between jobs.”

Coach Mieznikowski was drawn to SAU for more than just their brand new swimming and diving program.

“I saw St. Ambrose being very proactive and doing what’s best for the student athletes in the area and I definitely want to be part of that,” Mieznikowski said. “I just wanted to have a good number of athletes so that we could be competitive, right from the get go.”

He admits that the road to creating this new program has not been without its speed bumps.

“The biggest challenge has simply been getting student athletes to know that we have a program,” Mieznikowski said. “It’s just me reaching out to individuals and having connections in the coaching community, but there are so many high schools in the Chicago area, Rockford area, all through Iowa, Illinois and the Midwest, that don’t even know we have a program.”

Mieznikowski says that once student athletes learn about the program and the university, their enthusiasm is promising. This has led to a diverse group of athletes on the swimming and diving team.

“We actually have a variety and I kind of like that,” Mieznikowski said. “It's kind of nice to have a university setting where you do have some diversity and athletes coming from all over the United States and the world.”

Mieznikowski came into the season with realistic expectations for his team, but those expectations have been blown out of the water.

““I think we are doing awesome. We are way ahead of where I imagined we would be,” Mieznikowski said. “We actually have surprised a lot of teams.”

That element of surprise likely won’t last long with the success the team continues to display. There have been several swimmers on both the men’s and women’s team qualify for nationals already in diving, relays and individual races. Mieznikowski’s coaching style and attitude plays an important role in the empowerment and ultimate success of his athletes.

“A lot of it's just based on my coaching philosophy, and that's basically to create an environment where the athletes want to be there,” Mieznikowski said. “We kind of have a motto of go big or go home, give it 100% every day, don’t worry about the long term. If you’re focusing on today then your goals for the future will happen.”