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Head coach Colella brings new mindset to program

After 27 years at the helm, Bob Thompson retired as the head coach of the Duke swimming and diving program this summer, paving the way for Dan Colella, who was appointed head coach June 10.

The former Tennessee women's swimming coach, brought with him a new mentality, which he hopes will elevate the Blue Devil swimming program to a new level.

"There is definitely a change in philosophy and training," Colella said. "The girls received it with open arms. The way I approach training, athletes should understand the 'whys' and apply learning. There is emphasis here on the student in student-athlete, and it shows because the girls are sponges, learning how to swim fast."

Colella takes over a women's team that finished ninth in last year's ACC Championships and includes All-ACC performer Katie Ness.

"We have individuals who have the talent to qualify for the NCAA championships," Colella said.

At Tennessee, Colella coached 29 swimmers who earned a total of 132 All-American honors, and he knows how to cultivate talent. In his 12 years in Knoxville, he coached 10 of his teams to top-25 finishes.

"We want to be competitive in the ACC," Colella said. "The girls' team has not won a dual meet since 1993. We want to move up in the ranks, closer to the middle of the pack. We're going to take it day by day, week by week, focus on the basics, establish good foundations and keep our sights on the end of the season."

Having come from a program that offers scholarships, Colella accepted the Duke job knowing he would face obstacles because the Blue Devils currently do not have any swimmers on scholarship. In addition, he will be in charge of both the women's and men's programs, an opportunity he gladly welcomes.

"It is great to be working with an administration that wants to excel and really cares about the athletes. They recognize athletes aren't machines and that the girls should have a great experience at Duke."

The men's and women's swimming teams will compete in its first dual meet of the season against William & Mary and N.C. State Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Wilson Aquatic Center.

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