Interview with Middlebury’s New Head Coach

D3Swimming.com was able to secure the first known interview with Middlebury’s new head swimming & diving coach, Bob Rueppel. We asked him several questions about coaching at Middlebury and in the NESCAC. With the profile of this job, a lot of talk has centered around the future of the program. We wish Bob and the Middlebury family the best of luck this season and going forward. We also appreciate Bob’s willingness to respond to our questions.

What excites you the most about the Head Coaching job at Middlebury?

The academic reputation of Middlebury College as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the country, combined with the exceptional accomplishments of the swimming program and breathtaking campus make this an incredible opportunity.

Besides these things, what other factors led you to Middlebury?

My family and I get to live where others go on vacation!!

Why do you think the hiring committee and Erin Quinn committed to Bob Rueppel being the next head coach at Middlebury?

I felt from the beginning of the process that this would be a great fit for me. At F&M I recruited very bright students who understand accountability, team dynamics,work ethic and to be honest…we built a family. Everyone understood their role inthe success of the program…whether you were 1:51 in the 200 IM or 2:08. And the accountability reached far beyond the water. I also have an expectation of my athletes that some people feel is unreasonable but I will always stick to my corephilosophy. Being part of a program is a privilege and not a right.

Middlebury is one of the best Liberal Arts Colleges in the country, they have also achieved at a very high level on the playing field with their athletic teamswinning a combined 31 national championships since 1979. How does your coaching philosophy fit into the Panthers future success in the water?

The academic programs at Middlebury are very demanding yet so stimulating. I like to think I challenge yet engage my swimmers to take ownership in their training. Beexcited to see success from positive results and reach for the highest level possible. I sincerely believe that the college provides the perfect framework for success.

What is one thing you wish every returning swimmer at Middlebury knew about you before they return to campus this fall?

That we are all in this together…and our journey begins now. Many more details to follow!!

What type of coach are you? What events or training group would youconsider your specialty?

I am very detail oriented. Specificity is the key to success. I would like to think Icoach all groups equally. My team will always be taught to pay attention to detailand find an edge any way we can. And of course will have a work ethic second tonone that will carry into their careers and lives well past their swimming their day at Middlebury.

What is your favorite swimming event?

I have 2…the mile is one where so many things can change during the course of the event and of course the 400IM…the true test of the complete swimmer.

How will you change your approach to recruiting at Middlebury where thetypical student graduates from high school with around a 3.9 GPA and an SATscore in the 1400 neighborhood?

One does not become interested in Middlebury College not knowing the academic profile and what it takes to have the privilege to attend this fine institution. Our swim program will hold the same core values all my teams had from Wittenberg toF&M to Middlebury. I will not change a thing as far as my approach. I have always balanced academics and swimming with academics taking precedence.

The men’s team returns four swimmers that participated in the NCAAChampionships this past season, how do you build on the recent National success of the program?

I am very lucky to walked into a situation where there is an incredible foundation in place. I have the utmost respect for Coach Pete Solomon as a person and coach andhis great work here has put this program among the elite in the nation. My hope is to take it to the next level.

You will be moving from the Centennial Conference to the NESCAC. Surely that will be an exciting meet, what do you expect from the NESCAC Championships?

I am very honored and humbled to coach along side some of the finest coaches in the country in the NESCAC. I am also lucky enough to call several of them my good friends.

Swimming and Diving in the NESCAC conference does not start until November1st. Virtually every other team in the country outside of teams in your conference will already be training and competing, how do you feel about that? What adjustments will you as a coach have to make with a shorter season than when you were coaching at Wittenberg or Franklin & Marshall?

Results are compelling. The performances of NESCAC institutions at both the conference championships and NCAA’s hold that answer.

What is your favorite sport and sports team outside of swimming?

I absolutely love ice hockey and the New York Rangers.

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