By KATELYN MASSARELLI
UT’s swim program has recruited and reformed many talented swimmers compete against the best of the best. Jimi Kiner, former assistant swim coach, committed to swimming upon being recruited to UT’s swim team in 1997. At the start of this season he was promoted to men’s head coach alongside the women’s head coach Ed Brennan.
For Kiner, stepping up into the head coaching role was an honor to take on as a former UT swimmer who spent a successful four years with the program from 1997 to 2001. It was a successful career that landed him a spot into the UT Athletic Hall of Fame in Oct. 2014, and a spot competing in the US Olympic trials in 2000. All of this while being coached by Brennan.
According to Kiner, swimming for UT was an experience of a lifetime. He lead an non-traditional path in swimming where he never swam year round because of his involvement in other sports in high school. After a sports injury, he decided to pursue a college career in swimming. That was when he found UT’s Division II swim program. Brennan recruited Kiner to join the program which at the time included 12 swimmers.
“[Brennan’s] been doing this for 37 years and he brings in a lot of knowledge,” Kiner said. “[My success] can be largely attributed to Ed.”
Now the coaching staff includes both Kiner and Brennan along with assistant coaches Ryan Gober, Stephanie Branham and Phil Murray. To Brennan, Kiner has been an important part of the swimming program at UT for almost 20 years.
“He is an outstanding coach, mentor, and friend,” Brennan said. “We are very fortunate to have him at UT.”
Going into this season, Kiner is prepared to maintain the success of the men’s team and contribute to the success of the women’s team as associate coach. The team is coming back with a large group of newly recruited freshman after graduating another class of seniors. Four of the graduated swimmers went on to compete at the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championships along with senior returning swimmer Martin Hammer. Women’s team swimmers like seniors Marisa Barton and Brittany Bayes and sophomore Makayla Ayers are back to take on the 2016-2017 season.
According to Barton, the five coaches are great assets to the team and help them prepare for meets by focusing on an individual’s specific event to prepare the team for competitions.
“We are so happy for Jimi Kiner,” Barton said. “He has put so much effort into our team and works a lot with our distance squad to prepare them well.”
According to Kiner, his experience swimming allows him to relate to the swimmers in terms of the training process of an individual swimmer, and the knowledge that the entire team as a whole needs to be successful.
“I have experience going through [training and competing],” Kiner said. “I can relate to them and I know it takes a lot of hard work that requires a lot of time and effort into making great swimmers.”
In regards to the season ahead, Kiner is expecting success from the returning swimmers and the new swimmers, but keeps an open mind on how the season will play out. The ultimate goal for the team is to win the SSC Championship and to keep improving.
Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org