Abby Brethauer sits at her desk overlooking the Hamilton pool, smiling as swimmers waltz in and out of her office to grab candy or lounge on the big comfy couch she just bought.
“I’m redecorating,” Brethauer said as she pointed to the boxes and unpacked furniture in the corner. “I’m trying to make this office a place my swimmers will want to hang out. I want them to feel like this is their space, not just my office.”
Over this past summer, Brethauer was selected as the new assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s swim teams at Tufts University. She is replacing Nancy Bigelow, who was with the program for over 40 years.
“Tufts is a program that I have watched and respected since I was swimming,” said Brethauer. “I am honored beyond words to now be part of this amazing tradition. I was lucky enough to know Coach Megerle when I swam and have loved watching and learning from both Nancy and Adam over my coaching career…So while I’m still pretty new here, I feel like in some small way I have been prepping to be part of this program since I was in college.”
Tufts swimmers are excited about the new coaching addition. “Coach Nancy is irreplaceable; however, Abby brings an unparalleled energy and enthusiasm to the team that we didn’t have before,” said sophomore John Koster. “The whole dynamic is different. We’re more cheerful and there’s a new level of fun being brought to the pool every day.”
Before accepting the job this past summer, Brethauer was head coach of the men’s and women’s swim program at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia for eight seasons. Prior to working at Mary Washington, Brethauer was the assistant coach at Columbia University from 2004 to 2010. She has also been the head coach of the Bates College Swim Camp since 2008.
Brethauer was quite the competitor herself. She was a member of three NCAA championship teams at Kenyon College, and was swim team captain during her senior season. She is an NCAA Division 3 national record holder and a 13-time All-American.
“I love sitting in Abby’s office every afternoon and just hanging out with her. It’s such a nice space to be in before practice. None of us would ever come in here when it was Coach Nancy’s office unless we were in trouble or absolutely needed to come in to get something. Now Abby’s added couches and pillows and candy and the office is the place where [the swimmers] want to spend time,” said sophomore Lily Kurtz.
Brethauer has made it a point for her swimmers to know they can come to her for anything and that she is always available to talk. She hopes to not only be a coach, but an active and available support system for the team.
“I am a huge swimming nerd,” she said. “I love following results and watching teams compete every chance I get. Watching my swimmers brings me back to my time in the pool, and there’s nothing I love more than that. I am so excited to get to know [the Tufts swimmers] and be part of your college experience. I love talking about swimming, and just talking in general and I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
In her short time at Tufts, Brethauer has already made an impact. Swimmers actually like spending time around the pool and there’s a new, tangible upbeat energy amongst the team. “Abby is more than just a swim coach,” said senior Brandon Jinn.