Brenau University Golden Tigers Swim Coach Blaire Bachman of Gainesville, Ga., was named Appalachian Swim Conference “Coach of the Year” for the second consecutive year for her team’s accomplishments during the 2012-13 season.
The honor came during the final conference meet Feb. 14-16 in Barbourville, Ky., as the No. 5 nationally ranked Tigers team qualified its swimmers for participation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship tournament in Oklahoma City Feb. 26 – March 3.
Bachman’s Tigers finished the 2012 season at last spring’s tournament ranked No. 8 in the nation. The university’s highest finish in the swimming and diving championships ended a season in which only five of 18 school swimming records remained unbroken.
Bachman was one of the youngest head coaches in the nation, but she actually received a 10-year employee service recognition last fall because she had started working at Brenau as a teenager, teaching swimming lessons and helping with the team.
Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor, however, said that it was not much of a risk to hand over the chore of building a nationally competitive team to a young woman who just a couple of years earlier had been in the pool herself as a student athlete.
“From the moment she started, she has inspired and challenged her team to be the best swimmers they can be,” Lochstampfor says. “Through her training methods and recruiting efforts, she has taken the program to a new level.”
Bachman started her collegiate swim career at University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, where she was a scholastic All-American. She graduated in 2009 from Georgia College & State University, where Lochstampfor says she single-handedly organized, coached and publicized the GCSU Swim Cats Swim Club. She was a volunteer assistant to Brenau swimming in 2007-08.
Bachman has been involved with Brenau since 2001, starting as a teenage lifeguard and swim instructor, conducting private and semi-private lessons for all ages. She also squeezed in some time to help build another swim club in the area as well as a stint with a public relations agency in Tallahassee, Fla., once she got her degree. That’s where Lochstampfor actually found her when he went looking for a new coach.
However, in the athletics director’s book, hiring Bachman was no gamble.
“Coach Bachman has done a tremendous job of elevating the stature of our swim program both regionally and nationally.”
The Brenau swimmers in the regional tournament improved their 2012 performance. Although they placed fourth overall behind Asbury College, Wheeling Jesuit University, and Notre Dame College, the Brenau swimmers scored championship-qualifying points in multiple events. Tiger Hannah Boudreaux of Lafayette, La., was named the conference’s Female Athlete of the Year after placing first in three individual events and setting new conference records in all.
Showing the ASC its relay dominance, Brenau stole the show in the final relay of the evening finishing first in the 400 FR Relay in 3:36.57. The Tigers had a second place finish in the 200 Medley Relay (1:50.55).
MK Jabbia of Slidell, La., an area from which Bachman has recruited four swimmers for this year’s team, two of whom are returning 2012 All-Americans, placed third of 2:30.03. Ali Watkins of Watkinsville, Ga., placed 13th (2:43.10). Michelle Billeaud from Lafayette, La., topped the podium at fourth in the 50 FR (24.99) and third in the 100 BK (59.4). Kathleen Rossi of Clearwater, Fla., and Lisa Portwood of Marietta, Ga., added points for the Golden Tigers in the 200 FR going 13th and 16th respectively. Butterfliers Meredith Barrington of Macon, Ga., and Monica Souther of Dalton, Ga., placed fourth and 14th with times of 59.99 and of 1:06.52.