Busch prepares to make splash in first year
Augie Busch’s last job as a swimming head coach was at his alma mater, Salpointe High School, in Tucson, Ariz.
He entered the college ranks as an assistant at Arkansas from 2001-2003 and continued with eight seasons at Arizona as an assistant.
His ascension was 10 years in the making, but Busch is a head coach again at UH after signing on in May. He replaces the late Mark Taylor who died in March.
UH begins its season with the Red and White Meet on Oct. 5 at the CRWC Natatorium. The Daily Cougar spoke with Busch to get his thoughts on his new job and the 2011-2012 season.
Q: How was it to get your first head coaching gig after being a career assistant in the college ranks:
A: To use the cliché, you have worked your whole life for this. It’s your chance to make a stamp on something. This is an opportunity for me to make a name for myself, and to do a lot better by this program.
Q: Will you have to alter your coaching style?
A: We have a pretty small team. At Arizona we had groups. I was quite honestly responsible for a group that was almost the size of this team. I’m glad I’m starting out my first head coaching job with a single gender instead of women and men.
Q: With swimming being a two-semester sport, do you feel like you are trying to get your swimmers to peak at the right time or do you feel they need to maintain a consistent effort throughout those months?
A: Effort always has to be there, that’s a tough thing for swimmers because sometimes they get broken down. For me it’s all about achieving their best times at the end of the season at conference. With the big stage comes expectations and excitement that no other stage presents. You just want them to battle when they’re under tough training, and perform big when it counts.
Q: Who do you feel like are cornerstones of the roster among the swimmers?
A: Kim Eeson, she’s our best freestyler. When you’re the best freestyler it’s important. Beccy Hillis, Reka Kovac those are probably our top conference girls from last one.
Q: Seven of the swimming team’s 11 meets are at home at the CRWC Natatorium, including the Conference USA championships. Is it a home-pool advantage or is it difficult to compete at the same place you practice?
A: It can be an advantage only if we see it that way. We have to make sure our details in knowing that facility are honed in more than any other place. The double-edged sword is that there’s something kind of fresh about going to a competition out of town. There’s something cool about knowing you’re in a different place. It kind of galvanizes the team when they’re together on a trip.
Q: Do you have any plans to simulate the traveling experience for the C-USA Championships?
A: This is this first year that we’re going to stay at a hotel during conference. I’m not going to let the girls sleep at Cullen Oaks. I want to get that trip feeling where we’re eating every meal together.
Q: At Arizona your father Frank won several national championships and was the NCAA Coach of the Year six times. He was recently named the USA Swimming National Team Director. How did he influence you?
A: Just watching him and the back-and-forths we would get to have, just talking shop. Watching him operate as a head coach has been his biggest influence on me.
He could be the best national team director in the world, but it won’t be in comparison to what he’s done as a coach, and his talents as a motivator. Some of those traits are being put on display now, but nothing like being in a team setting.
Q: The diving team has had success in recent years. What does head diving coach Jane Figueiredo bring to the program?
A: My dad tried to hire Jane 15 years ago. That tells you all you need to know about the respect I have for her. She’s one of the best coaches in the world. When you’re around that you know why that person is the best at what they do. The diver has complete and utter respect for her, yet they feel like she’s at their level with how they relate. That’s the combination the best coaches have.