With just less than a month before the first meet of the year, the Truman State University swim team will need to adapt their efforts to find a new head coach for the 2017-2018 season.
Junior Emma Barnett said the swim team found out around the first week of August that Head Coach Ed Pretre — well-known for coaching the 2015 Bulldogs’ women’s team to its GLVC Championship victory — ended his 6-year term as head coach at Truman. Pretre — who originally began coaching at Truman when the previous swimming coach resigned mid-season — recently accepted the position of assistant swimming coach at Villanova University. Though Barnett said herself and the swim team are disappointed to see him go, she said the sentiments felt by the athletes can be better described as bittersweet.
“I think there were a lot of mixed emotions there because we’re happy for him, and it’s a good opportunity for him, and he gets to be closer to his family,” Barnett said. “But we’re obviously sad too. I think people are really going back and forth between happy and sad.”
Barnett — 2015 GLVC Freshman of the Year — said Pretre did a lot to build up Truman’s swimming program. She said Pretre’s coaching talent even filtered down to an individual level, and she said he did a great job focusing on each athlete’s individual needs. Barnett said Pretre played a large part in recruiting her for Truman’s swim team, and she said her experience with him as coach has been very positive.
To fill his coaching position, Truman Director of Athletics Jerry Wollmering said the Truman Athletic Department has advertised the open position on the NCAA website as well as various other athletic networks. Though the application was just posted Friday, Wollmering said several applicants have already responded, and it might be four to eight weeks before the field is significantly narrowed.
“Timing’s never perfect when you lose a coach,” Wollmering said. “But obviously losing a head coach so close to classes starting creates a challenge of trying to move as quickly as we can as the year begins.”
Senior Kortney Betz said the team is handling Pretre’s move well, and she said the freshmen are likely having an easier time of it because they were expecting an adjustment period with the transition from their high school coach to a collegiate one anyway. She said the whole situation reminded her of several years back when Truman’s head coach left partway through the season. She said, in that situation, Truman received Pretre as a great fit and everything worked out fine — Betz has confidence history will repeat itself in this way.
“Moving to Villanova was definitely a shock at first, but I know it’s a good school, and we’re all really happy for him and his family,” Betz said. “He has a baby on the way, so we have all been very understanding even when the statement just went out. It may be a little difficult at first, but we’ll work it out.”