Caroline (Bruce) McAndrew
McAndrew tried working in advertising and media relations. She ended up back where she started, back in the pool, showing young swimmers the joy in cold water, early-morning workouts and sore muscles.
“You don’t necessarily have to love cold water at 5 a.m.,” she said. “Once that alarm goes off, you don’t want to go. But you’re wide awake at 7:45 and it is nice — you’ve actually accomplished something. You can see your swimming from the perspective — more energy, reaching goals and striving hard.”
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McAndrew, 28, is the director of camps and clinics at Wichita Swim Club, a part-time position that gives her time to share her love of swimming. McAndrew, who attended Trinity Academy, finished ninth in the 200-meter breaststroke in the 2004 Olympics and won NCAA 100 and 200 breaststroke titles at Stanford. She also competed in the World University Games and earned Pacific-10 Conference women’s Swimmer of the Year honors in 2005.
She returned to Wichita in 2013, with husband Thomas McAndrew, and started coaching at Wichita Swim Club. During her swimming career, she didn’t see coaching in her future. A few years away from the sport changed her mind and she coached in California and Australia before coming to Kansas.
“I really missed so many of the things the sport taught me,” she said. “I want kids to love what they do. It’s going to be hard. If you love it, you can push through it.”
Fighting burnout is one of McAndrew’s top priorities. She wants time in the pool to mean more than laps. WSC coaches try to motivate their swimmers by setting goals and making games and competition out of what could be mundane practice time.
“We do a lot of hard training,” she said. “We’ve got to keep the fun in the sport.”
Coaching keeps McAndrew close to her sport. A fluke shoulder injury led to three surgeries, most recently in 2009. She last swam competitively in 2008 and a comeback in 2009 didn’t work out. The shoulder, damaged in an accidental collision with another swimmer, kept dislocating.
McAndrew, whose daughter Eveleigh was born in January, exercises in other ways. Her relationship with the pool is different than when she chased the Olympic dream. The temptation to pop out of the water and look at the digital numbers on the clock keeps her out of the water most days. She won’t like what those numbers tell her.
“I get back in the pool and I can’t help it — I swim a lap and I want to know what my time is,” she said. “I need to get to the point where I enjoy swiminng for swimming. I love swimming and the feel of the water and being able to clear your mind.”
Now her goal is to guide Wichita swimmers toward some of the success she enjoyed in high school and college.
“It’s really cool to be a part of that and help other kids be a part of that,” she said.