Swim team embraces change

Megan Fahrney, Sports Editor

New swim coach Jarod Schroeder instructs swimmers during a practice on Nov. 20. Schroeder previously was the men’s head swim coach for Northwestern University. Photo by Richard Chu

In the first week of September, senior Ryan Purdy was shocked to learn Kirk Ziemke, former head boys varsity swim coach, had resigned. His teammates began to panic, some questioning whether or not they would continue to swim for the team. Ryan, along with some other swimmers, called a meeting at junior Zander Johnson’s house. There, Ryan attempted to calm everyone down as the team speculated as to why their coach had left.

Ziemke was replaced this fall by Jarod Schroeder, former men’s head swim coach at Northwestern University from 2009 to 2018. Schroeder swam on the 1998 USA Goodwill Games Team and was a double silver medalist in the 1999 Pan American Games.

Assistant athletic director Matt Purdy said Ziemke left “for personal reasons.”

“He had the opportunity to explore some other job opportunities in the educational profession, so he decided to explore that,” said Matt. “I don’t know the exact name of the company, but he’s doing something nonprofit down in the city working at some of the public schools. Tutoring and that type of stuff.”

“The only thing I was told was that he got a new job in the city, a nonprofit organization, that just I think paid more and he got less hours,” said Ryan. “And I mean, it’s a job he said he couldn’t pass up, so he did it. And that’s all I know.”

Efforts to contact Ziemke himself were unsuccessful.

Ryan said he was originally upset Ziemke had left, but told himself he needed to “embrace the change” with a new coach.

According to Johnson, as compared to Ziemke’s coaching style, Schroeder’s practices will consist of lower volume, more intense yardage, rather than higher volume yardage.

“With Ziemke, we used to do about 8,000 yards a day, and with Schroeder he said that it would be about [3,000-5,000 of] really intense yardage,” Johnson said.

Schroeder said he stepped away from coaching at Northwestern because he wanted to spend more time with his family. In addition, he is getting his master’s degree in education and started student-teaching at Maine South this year.

“I emailed the [Glenbrook North] athletic director about the possibility of, not this year but next year, looking for a position, and he emailed me back in September saying, ‘What about this fall?’” Schroeder said.

According to Ryan, it is comforting to know Schroeder has coached at such a high level.

“I’ve talked to [my teammates] about him, and we kind of rave about him because we love his coaching style, all of his philosophies and his beliefs, and we like the change that it will bring to the team,” Ryan said.

Schroeder said the team has set goals such as winning conference and finishing in the top five or 10 at state, but he wants the team to focus on goals they can control beyond placement.

“What I am trying to get them to understand is that even if we swim well and [lose], we should still be excited about where we are and the growth that we have shown,” Schroeder said.

Ryan, Johnson, and seniors Jake Shapiro and Daniel Kaufman, all of whom were 2018 state qualifiers,  will return to the team this year, according to Matt.

Shapiro said despite the turmoil of finding a new coach, the team’s dynamic has shifted in a positive direction since the season has begun.

“For the past two or three years, we were told our senior year, we can make an impact at the state level, and so I think that my friends and I, my teammates and I, we are all just really excited to see what we can do there,” Shapiro said.