Swim coach to resign mid-season in 22nd year

By Mathew Starner

Swimming and diving head coach Bob Pearson announced the end of his 22 year career with Macalester Nov. 4. One meet into the season, his resignation came just as the team was getting its feet wet.”It was certainly very abrupt for many of us to hear that news,” athletic director Kim Chandler said. “[Nov. 4] was the first we had any conversation of his desire to be in a different direction.”

Pearson told the team that his decision was based on his family’s health problems as well as finding new professional opportunities. After his resignation, effective Nov. 28, Pearson will become the University of Minnesota’s university aquatics director.

For his swimmers, the announcement was especially emotional.

“Immediate tears,” captain Nathan Young ’11 said. “Right after he said the word, ‘resignation’, several people on the team were crying immediately. That was tough. Bob was tearing up, too. It was traumatic.”

For Pearson, the new job at the University of Minnesota means more regular hours so he can care for his parents as their health becomes a more serious issue.

“Unfortunately with his family, he wasn’t able to devote the time to them that he needs to,” said assistant aquatics coordinator Jennie Charlesworth. “Also, with the timing of practices and stuff, if he couldn’t give the team 100%, then he needed to let us take over and let someone else give what the team needed.”

The situation has left the team in a difficult situation to find a new head coach in the middle of the season.

“The timing is critical here,” Chandler said. “At this point, there’s no suggestion of massive overhaul. It’s just a matter of making sure the young people of that program are taken care of and have a really good leader and someone who really cares about them.”

Chandler said that for the current season, a national search for a coach would not be feasible. Right now, the team will look internally to find an interim coach to fill out the rest of the season, then possibly look further beyond for future seasons.

Despite the team’s predicament, captain Jeff Yamashita ’11 still appreciates his coach’s efforts in helping the team through the difficult time.

“Coach Bob is doing everything in his power to make this transition as easy as possible,” Yamashita said. “Although this came at an inopportune time in our season, our team is determined to grow stronger and overcome this storm.”

The next coach has large shoes to fill not only in coaching, but also in the interpersonal skills that Pearson was known for on each of his teams.

“His down-to-earth personality and his approachable character always put the team at ease,” Yamashita said. “He coached us like we were one of his children and that directly translated to our successes in the pool and facilitated to a family-oriented atmosphere that will be missed.”

The new coach is anticipated to be named soon, and for some swimmers, this will only be helpful in relieving the uncertainty.

“Im not nervous, I’m just anxious because I want to know who’s it going to be so I can readjust to that,” Young said.

Until a new coach is named, Pearson has tried to make his departure easier on many of those involved.

“Even though everyone’s stressed out, he’s trying to make this transition less stressful for everybody including himself,” Charlesworth said. “He’s definitely sad by leaving Macalester, a place he’s devoted a lot of time. He’ll miss it.