Cal Poly’s swimming and diving team can expect to put a lot of hard work in this year with new head coach Tom Milich.
Not only does he boast an extensive resume as an award-winning coach, but he is dedicated to making the Mustangs a winning team.
“We’re going to be like a whole new team,” said one of the team’s captains, Julie Demers. “I can tell that we’re definitely going to be in a lot better shape.”
Cal Poly’s former head coach, Rich Firman, retired last spring after 19 years at the school. Assistant coach Phil Yoshida served as interim coach over the summer while the athletic department conducted a national search to fill the position.
Milich arrived at Cal Poly in August with 15 years of experience as the aquatics director of the Clovis Swim Club and for Clovis Unified School District. He also spent two years as the women’s head swim coach at Fresno State, where he was named Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2004.
Milich is an 11-time recipient of the American Swim Coaches Association Distinguished Coach of the Year award. He was also an assistant coach for the silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic squad in 1988 and served on the staff of the gold-medal winning World Championship team in 1991.
“Whenever someone new comes in, regardless of their job, they’re going to do things their way,” Milich said.
The swimming and diving team has been doing things Milich’s way, increasing from seven practices per week last year with Firman to 11 this year. The swimmers practice twice a day Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. and again at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m a high-volume kind of coach, we train a lot,” Milich said.
Milich has also significantly increased the amount of yardage his swimmers do at each practice, with distance swimmers swimming around nine to 10 miles each day. He is also focusing on breaking down the components of swimming, making his swimmers do pulling exercises without kicking in order to condition their arms, and intense kicking to improve power and stamina in their legs.
“I would like them all to be better. If I can do that, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Milich said.
Demers said a few of Cal Poly’s swimmers quit the team because they were unable to keep up with the intense practice schedule set by Milich. However, the dedicated swimmers who have stuck with the team are excited to improve their skills and, “be in a whole new level of competition,” Demers said.
Milich knows how hard he pushes his team and says he is impressed by how his swimmers manage their workload of classes and frequent practices.
“I find that the students at Cal Poly are outstanding athletes,” Milich said.
Milich hopes to continually improve the Mustangs’ record by recruiting up-and-coming swimmers to Cal Poly, which is a new direction for the team.
“I hope I’m here for the rest of my career,” Milich said.