Interview with Widener’s New Coach

Katy Peterson is the new head coach of Widener Swimming & Diving. Consider the amazing success of females who have recently taken over programs, Katy either has big shoes to fill or success on her side, depending if you are a glass half full or empty kinda person. We wish her the best of luck and appreciate her time in answering our questions.

What attracted you to Widener?

I grew up about an hour north of Widener in a small town called Huntingdon Valley.  I loved growing up outside Philadelphia!  The city and surrounding areas have so much to offer!  I truly never thought I would have an opportunity to continue my love of coaching at the collegiate level and live in the Philadelphia area!  So when I received the call from our athletic director Jack Shafer I immediately knew it was something I needed to check out. Actually after our conversation I think I had decided….it’s just that feeling you get when all the pieces seem to fall together!

Widener is a program that has experienced a lot of success in the MAC, as well as regionally over the last couple decades, how do you plan on taking that level of success to the national level?

Yes, the history of Widener swimming in the MAC has been tremendous! My goal is to continue that championship tradition but also to make a push for a division 3 NCAA championship presence! I believe this team can be top 20 at nationals in the next couple years! I realize this is a lofty goal but there is so much young swimming talent in the Philadelphia and tristate area!

What is your favorite d3 handle (username) on the forums?  Do you plan on creating one?

I am fairly new to the d3swimming forum so I can’t say I have a favorite handle yet but I will definitely be creating one and hope to continue the goal of this site to show what an amazing opportunity swimming at the d3 level can be!

You swam at the d1 level and have had two coaching stops at the d1 level, most recently in the ACC, before arriving at Widener.  How have those experiences made you a better coach?  How have those experiences challenged you at the d3 level?

I had a great experience swimming D1 at Virginia Tech and I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to coach at the division 1 level right out of college. It was an immediate role change from really focusing on what you can do to be your best, to puttting 30-60 others people’s lives ahead of your own!  I was able to learn from a lot of amazing coaches, visit clubs teams while recruiting and see all the new ideas out there in the swimming world!  Every day I believe I have learned something new, become more patient, and have come to realize that for someone to be truly successful in swimming they need to feel fulfilled in other areas of their life and find balance!  I am a very competitive person, by nature, and believe that my enthusiasm towards training and competitions will be contagious here at Widener!

What adjustments do you anticipate making from the programs that have helped form your coaching philosophy to be as successful as possible at Widener?

I will be able to take a lot of the same philosophies that I have used in the past but just tone down the quantity.  The program here at Widener is going to be more personalized than I’ve had time to do in the past.  We’ll have specific swimming, lifting, dry land, spin bike, yoga groups based on each athletes goals and class schedule .  I want to make sure that no athlete feels that they are missing out on an opportunity because of a lab or special class they need to take. For example on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s we may have 5-6 training sessions all supervised by a coach.

If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?

I would have to go with Dash, the speedy little guy from The Incredibles.  Some people think I should have been a NASCAR driver.

Quality or quantity?

Definitely quality but I have swam for Dick Shoulberg at GAAC so the quantity sneaks back in every once and awhile…it’s a test of dedication, determination, and pure will. I will always be indebted to Shoulberg for teaching and working me.

A degree in Nutrition, Foods and Exercise Science is spot on for coaching.  How often does it come into play with your approach to coaching?

A lot more than I ever thought it would! I actually just unpacked a bunch of my old college books( the ones that I didn’t sell as a starving college kid at the end of the semester).  A lot of swimmers need to remember that during serious training you need to think of eating as fueling your body for optimum performance, not just filling it with empty calories.

What can we expect to see from your teams next season?

This coming season is going to be a year of growth and change, for all of us. I believe that change is good!  If you can learn to except change you will never stop growing as a person!  I have now met or spoken with almost everyone on the team and they are ready to commit!  My favorite saying from assistant coach Gary Taylor at FSU is “fast swimming is fun and fun is swimming fast!” That’s what we’re going to do!

If you could have a sandwich with anything on it for lunch, what kind of sandwich would you have?

Obviously a Philly cheesesteak wit!  For those of you who arent from philly that means with cheese whiz! You can’t get the real thing anywhere else!

What would you like your team to know about you before the season begins?

Communication is the key with me!  The more you communicate with me and my staff the more you will gain from the experience!

Based on what you know right now, how good can Widener be in 5 years?

I believe widener can be a top 10 d3 program on both sides within the next 5 years!

Who wins the 200 IM in London?  What about for the men?

The Womens race is going to be a close one but of course I am pushing for USA and I’ll go with Ariana Kukors, although I think if Missy Franklin wanted it she could be a threat as well!    And for the men I’ll go with Ryan Lochte.

What are you most excited about this coming year?

The opportunity to coach a group of promising young men and women that are there at practice everyday because they want to be! No one is making them, there’s no scholarship on the line, they just love the sport of swimming and competing as a team.

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