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  • Matt Scher

Swimming and diving into a new season with another new coach

The Olivet College men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs have a new coach just in time for the 2017-2018 season.

Former Battle Creek Central High School swimming and diving coach Rob Brownell takes over the program from former coach Cauli Bedran for his first college coaching job. Bedran’s tenure lasted just one season here, from 2016-2017. He was hired by Bowling Green State University in Ohio in August 2017 to become its assistant swim coach for the upcoming season.

“He [Brownell] has a passion for what we do here at Olivet College and I’m excited about what he is going to do [in the future],” Olivet College Athletic Director Ryan Shockey said in a taped interview about Brownell. “He will be here for a while, which will give us stability and I like that.

[Brownell was] born and raised for the most part in Marshall. He also has a lot of high school swimming connections which will help with recruiting.”

Brownell was at Battle Creek Central High School as swimming and diving coach since 2005. He served as the boys’ coach for the first six years and became the girls’ coach as well for the final six seasons of his tenure. Under his tutelage, the teams showed continuous improvement and saw many of his swimmers go on to compete at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) level.

Before landing in Battle Creek, Brownell served as the girls’ swimming and diving coach at San Pasqual High School in Escondido, California, for four years. For every year he was coach, the Eagles won the conference championship and finished in the top 10 at California state championship meets.

Brownell was a member of the varsity crew team for the Aztecs at San Diego State University from 1996-1999 according to

“Short-term, my goals are to compete at a higher level than last year, bring the team closer, and improve on our standings. I hope to increase recruiting and am looking to find the right student athlete fit for Olivet College, both academically and from a swimming perspective,” Brownell said about his expectations for the program.

“Long-term, I would plan to grow this team to be 50-60 swimmers strong and be competing for an MIAA [Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association] championship. I have also set goals of getting swimmers qualified for the NCAA meet and hopefully start to bring down some school records along the way.”

Team members also have started to embrace Brownell from day one, already enthused by what they see. “He has done a great job so far in creating a positive and competitive environment on the team. We’re all very excited for the new season,” junior freestyle swimmer Delaney Graham said when reached for comment. “It’s also great knowing that he is here to stay long-term and will be able to recruit and build the team up these next few years, which is also a big goal of ours.”

“Coach Brownell has created an atmosphere that makes practices enjoyable at 5 a.m. every day, while also pushing everyone to improve every day,” sophomore freestyle swimmer Eric Wood said.

Brownell has a process laid out in terms of trying to bring a MIAA title to both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs at Olivet College. “My priority list was simple walking in the door: Number one, get everyone on the same page as I am regarding team chemistry, work ethic, and a shared vision and goals. Number two, bring in a training style that will benefit each person individually to help us achieve those goals. Number three, begin a rigorous recruiting process to begin to build and strengthen the team overall,” Brownell said. “If we can do that, we will be in a position to realistically compete for a MIAA championship in three to four years.”

The Comet’s first competition of the Brownell era is the MIAA Relays at 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. The full schedule is available on the Olivet Athletics website, “My priority list was simple walking in the door: No. 1, get everyone on the same page as I am regarding team chemistry, work ethic, and a shared vision and goals? “ - Brownell

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