Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Eric Hansen: The Sky is the Limit
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 21, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 21, 2011

By Nayriah Bosley -

After 21 years in the collegiate ranks, Arizona head swimming coach Frank Busch left to become USA Swimming’s National Team Director. The Wildcats had to seek out a new coach and after an extensive search, the Wildcats chose Eric Hansen, a former assistant coach and Arizona alum.

Hansen made the move from Madison, Wis., where he served as the head swimming coach at the University of Wisconsin. He transformed the program and his women’s teams finished among the top 20 on 10 different occasions at the NCAA Championships.

Hansen is thrilled to be back in Arizona. He finds that the tradition of swimming and diving and leadership to be amazing.

“I like a lot of things about Arizona, I think the whole package is the most attractive thing, but this is my alma mater,” Hansen said “It means a lot to me, it’s a great team. It’s got a rich history in tradition of swimming and diving and I also get to be outside in some great facilities. We also have great leadership here.”

After finishing his collegiate career at Iowa State University, Hansen swam for the Arizona club team. Years later, he was appointed assistant coach, a position he held for three years under Busch.

After 15 years of coaching elsewhere, Hansen decided he wanted to return to Arizona. He believed that he could contribute a lot to the Arizona Swimming and Diving program because he already had experience with it.

Hansen is pleased with his work thus far and is excited to work alongside some very talented athletes. Transitioning with such great talent around him will presumably make a very complicated process much simpler for Hansen.

“I got here in April and in August our club team won the U.S. championships, so that was a great way to get started,” Hansen said. “The transitions are always hard, but as far as the swimming aspect, that was probably the easiest part to deal with.”

In addition to anticipating the 2011-12 swimming season, Hansen is also looking forward to the 2012 Olympic Trials in July.

“This is a big year with our two great teams and the upcoming Olympic trials,” Hansen said. “We’ve got a shot to do something really special in both the men and women’s teams. Hopefully we win some national titles. I know the kids have been talking a lot about seeing how we can climb in the rankings and they all want to win. They’re racers and I would not bet against them, that is for sure, especially the way they train. That is going to take us right in to Olympic Trials in the first part of July and we’ll have good representation.’’

In addition to Hansen’s transition, he has the added pressure of following swimming coach legend Busch, who built a high-caliber program at Arizona. But Hansen is excited for the challenge of maintaining the program that Busch fathered successfully for 21 years.

“Everything I’ve done in my life has been geared towards this,” Hansen said. “Even though this might not have been in the front of my mind, the things I did as a swimmer, as a student and as a coach have prepared me the best possible way. It prepared me for the best that I can be for this position. If you’ve done everything you can why worry about it? I honestly think that we can break through ground. The sky is the limit and we prepare that way.”

One of Hansen’s seniors and two-time NCAA Champion, Cory Chitwood, is thrilled to have Hansen as the new coach.

“It’s good to get a new perspective,” Chitwood said. “He knows a lot of stuff technically about swimming that I’ve never really heard before, so it’s nice to have him in here.”

Chitwood also appreciates the energy Hansen brings to the team.

“It’s always nice for something or someone new to enter your life and he definitely brings a lot of energy here on deck,” Chitwood said. “It’s just nice to do something different that you’re not used to so it’s been a lot of fun”.

Like Hansen says, the sky is the limit, and he has the whole season in front of him to take it there.


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