Senior Ian Hutchison could hear the cheers from the East fans in the stands, but he knew most of them were anticipating his front triple to smack.
Hutchison could feel his heart beating out of his chest. Being the only senior diver on East’s senior night, he knew that he had to take a risk. He stepped up to the board hovering over “The Pool” – not yet named Wiley Wright Pool – feeling the intensity rising, taking one last breath before doing his dive.
As soon as he hit the water, he realized he had completed the dive of a lifetime and could do nothing but laugh. This is one of Hutchison’s most memorable East moments.
The East athletic department hired Ian Hutchison after former girls varsity swim coach Rob Cole left last year. Hutchison, a 2004 East graduate, mainly dove in highschool but swam enough to letter in both sports. He went on to swim at Savannah College of Art and Design, also staying active in the swim community after college by coaching for Kansas City Swim Academy, Shawnee Mission West, and Pembroke Hill. In addition, Hutchison started to swim with Masters, an adult club swim group, and competes in triathlons.
Hutchison plans to provide rewarding practices by taking some of the hardest sets from college and tweaking them to fit the skills of the team. Being an experienced college swimmer will also allow him to give tips that will help with potential injuries by showing swimmers exercises and various stretches.
“The part that I am also looking forward to is that I know quite a few of the girls from club coaching and country club coaching,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison is able to understand the struggles of a student athlete; having multiple tests in one day or needing to see a teacher after school as he graduated from college in 2009. Senior Zoe Ryland, a varsity and KCSA swimmer, believes that Hutchison will be able to relate to the team just because of his age. Former coach, Cole is about 50 years old, but Hutchison is only about 30 years old.
“Hutchison is a lot younger than Cole, so I think just that will really help Hutchison to be able to relate to team because his style of coaching is a lot more current,“ Ryland said.
Hutchison decided to take a break from coaching after the birth of his son a year and a half ago, he knew that he would only return if the job at East opened up because of the program’s stellar reputation. Over a course of 42 years, the girls swim program boasts 15 state titles and 25 Sunflower League championships and has had countless swimmers reach the podium at state. Coaching at East also gives him to opportunity to return to East and give back to a program he once participated in.
Hutchison previously coached alongside Alexandra Erickson, the swim JV coach. Having coached with him before at KCSA, Erickson is very familiar with his philosophies and even has a teaching style similar to him.
“I’m excited to work with him again because I haven’t really worked with him for four years,” Erickson said.
Erickson believes Hutchison was chosen for the job because of his extensive knowledge of coaching, swimming and most importantly, his familiarity to East. She believes he will be able to ensure a smooth transition into the season, based on how he has worked in the past with swimmers, parents, and his fellow coaches.
When Hutchison was in high school, he was one of the managers for the girls swim and dive team. Through being the manager, he was able to develop a relationship with Shelly King, the current girls dive coach for Varsity and JV. Hutchison believes that having a relationship with King will be able to better the bond between swim and dive, creating a sense of one unified team.
According to Hutchison, the dive team has not been included in close knit family of the swim team just simply by having practices down at the other end of the pool and having meets in separate locations. Hutchison hopes to connect the teams by ensuring the divers and swimmers are equally supported at meets.
“Diving is really different from swimming, even though they are in the same meet they are a complete 180 from each other and that makes it hard because divers don’t get what swimmers do and swimmers don’t get what divers do,” King said.
Sophomore Anna Gunderman, a varsity swimmer, does not know Hutchison personally, but doesn’t doubt his skills as a coach.
“It makes me a lot more comfortable that he knows Rob and I think that when he talked to us he seemed on top of it with how he wants to change the program, I think that it shows initiative,” Gunderman said.
With promises to boost the program and improve the relationship between swim and dive, Hutchison is happy to come home.
“I had always hoped I would get a chance to coach at East, “ Hutchison said.