Updated Wed, Jan 18, 2012 11:19 am
For Ohio head coach Greg Werner, swimming has been a part of his life since age five, when he was growing up in California.
Not only did the location influence Werner, but all of his siblings swam along with him. As a young man he was accepted into the University of South Carolina on a scholarship, competing in the 400-meter Individual Medley and 200-meter Butterfly.
In the 1983-1984 season, he served as team captain for the conference championship team. Werner believed that by the time he graduated college he would leave swimming in the past.
“I didn’t even want to drink water, let alone take a shower,” Werner said. “I had been doing it so long that I wanted to see what life was like not being around the pool.”
During Werner’s fifth year in college, the South Carolina swim coach wanted to hire him as a student assistant coach and Werner, being a low income college student, decided to take the position.
“Before I even graduated I got an opportunity to coach and realized it was something that I really wanted to do,” he said. “Before I was 22 I found the profession I wanted to do the rest of my life.”
After life at the University of South Carolina, he dove in and applied for the head coach position at Ohio. Surprisingly, Werner was not in the first round of finalists.
After conflictions with the final round of applicants, the University took a look at the second group of finalists, where Werner was placed. He believes he stood out from the others.
“I hope I was chosen for my desire to be a head coach, my experience that I had up to that point in my career and the enthusiasm that I brought to the interview and deck each and every single day,” Werner said.
Ever since that day, Werner has remained a coach for the Bobcat swimming team. During his experience as Ohio's coach, he has won four Mid-American Conference women’s championships and has coached seven MAC "Swimmers of the Year." Even with all the success he has had, Werner believes that it’s not always winning that counts.
“It’s not all about winning. More than that, and what keeps me in the sport, is seeing their maturation and seeing them achieve things they didn’t think they could achieve,” Werner said. “It’s more than the four conference titles that’s keeps me in this sport, it’s seeing that young lady do something she never thought she could do and to watch her grow."
Among the swimmers on the team, it is evident that Werner is loved as a coach and role model figure. Senior Kristen Witham, explains her experience with the coach.
“I can’t speak enough about what he does for us as a team and the University, he cares so much about us on a personal level and swimming level, “Witham said. “His kindness towards us and understanding is just phenomenal, I couldn’t ask for any more support or faith in what we’re doing.”
Werner is now preparing the girls for the MAC championship this year.
“You start with zero points, I always tell the team all you can do is go out there, give the opponents nothing, make your competition earn everything and you do the best you can,” Werner said. "And then if that means you ended up eighth, you tip your cap to the other seven schools knowing that they had to be pretty good because you were really good.”