trials and tribulations have been plentiful for the Nevada Women’s Swim and Dive Team, just a year after their Mountain West Conference Championship victory in College Station, Texas. With a brand new coach for the second year in a row and the loss of superstar diving talent Krysta Palmer, there was concern over how well Nevada would perform in their ’16-’17 season. But the Wolf Pack did not allow the changes to hinder its performance. Under head coach Brendon Bray, the team has lived up to the expectations set by Nevada Athletic Director Doug Knuth.
“We expect Coach Bray to continue the excellent tradition of this program and to keep us in contention for Mountain West titles and national rankings,” said Knuth via the Nevada Athletics site.
Nevada’s season has gone well thus far, as they have placed themselves in a position similar to last season—top dogs of the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack saw their first conference play against UNLV on Nov. 15, where they defeated the Rebels 144-98. They then moved on to square off against the Fresno State Bulldogs in Fresno, California. Nevada again came away victorious, defeating the Bulldogs 177-123. The Pack then jumped out of conference play for a meet against Cal State East Bay and UC Davis on Nov. 4, 2016. The Wolf Pack furthered their win streak, defeating both competitiors. The team then went on to take first place in the Northern Arizona Diving invite and took first place in the UNLV swimming invitational. Nevada won out in 2016, and begun the new year in a similar fashion, defeating San Jose State 179-118. Nevada’s streak came to a screeching halt after their San Jose State win, as they ran into a tough Boise State squad. Although they would lose to the Broncos, Nevada took down Northern Arizona that same day.
The Nevada Swim and Dive team never lost a stroke following the transition from Neil Harper to Bray, as the team has found themselves in contention for yet another Mountain West conference championship run. With only one loss on the season to the Boise State Broncos in early February, Nevada never missed a beat, all the while living up to their coach’s expectations for them this season.
“Only goal I talked about was having them swim fast. I wanted more people to bust times… I just want us to perform well and I’ll be happy with the results,” Bray said.
Along with obtaining the goals set for them, the team may also have a stable coach for a while. After ex-coach Harper’s quick stint with the team, coaching instability can be worrisome. But luckily for the Pack, it appears that Bray is here to stay.
“I know I really like being here. I’m from Reno and I’m really happy here. I hope to be here for a really long time. You always want to have continuity to perform well,” Bray said.
In addition to concerns regarding coaching stability, where leadership would come from following the departure of Krysta Palmer was also a huge question. Fortunately for the Pack, the team did not suffer the fate of completely losing Palmer, as she became a volunteer diving coach for them. But leadership on the swimmer-diver level was still needed to help assist in the creation of team comradery.
“All of our seniors are great leaders. All of them have different ways to help the team. Some lead by examples and some are vocal. They all have different roles and they all do a great job,” Bray said.
While it is all well and good to have leaders to inspire the team, a great deal of impetus should come from within. This is especially true in the case of swimming and diving because although there is a team aspect, this sport pits athletes against one another in individualistic situations.
“We have some really goal-oriented athletes. They’re self-motivated and know what it takes. I think they just need a good environment,” Bray said.
Though they faced adversity, the Nevada’s Women’s Swim and Dive Team never faltered because of it. Much of it has to do with the team’s ability to self-motivate themselves. But another huge factor is Bray’s all-in attitude, love for the sport and the team.
“I’m just really lucky to be here and really happy to be able to coach them,” Bray said.
The team will begin making their way to College Station, Texas, to begin their play in the Mountain West Conference Championship on Feb. 15. The team will compete until Feb. 18, with hopes of being invited to the NCAA E Diving Championships and the NCAA Championships.