Women’s Swimming: Anna Miller thrives poolside as Northwestern assistant

Kendra Mayer, Reporter

Assistant coach Anna Miller is more than just a fresh face to the Wildcats. Coming on deck in May, Miller brought years of coaching and swimming experience to the program.

But Miller said during college she had little intention of coaching.

Graduating from the University of Georgia in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in real estate and risk management, the coach initially worked at a firm in Athens.

Miller said after a year or two in the field of risk management “something was missing.” It was then the retired swimmer went back to get a master’s in sports management and policy.

“The one thing I knew going in was that I wanted to finish my degree with an internship with USA Swimming,” Miller said.

She added her interest in USA Swimming stemmed from the layout of the organization. Miller said it is divided into a “dry” side, which administrates business dealings and a “wet” side, which works with the athletes.

Miller functioned on the “wet” side, interacting with the swimmers on a daily basis.

“What I really loved in that experience was being on deck, working with the athletes and getting to form relationships,” she said.

When Miller finished her internship, the University of Virginia offered her a position as an assistant coach. Ever since, Miller said, she knew she was doing the right job.

After leaving the Cavaliers, Miller’s first season with the Cats this year spelled new opportunities for both the team and its young, up-and-coming coach.

A December training trip to Arizona State was Miller’s first travel trip, both as a swimmer and a coach. She said southern schools have less incentive to go on trips to warm places because they tend to train in warm weather.

The coach’s favorite part of the trip was the sense of team unity. She added that the Cats “really made sure to make our training goals within each session.”

Several swimmers attested to the fact that Miller pushed them hard over the season and during the training trip.

Miller’s personal experience in the sport might explain the intensity of her workouts. As a swimmer, she was physically on the shorter side, which taught her to work on even the smallest of details. Now, Miller expects that same attention to detail from her swimmers.

At the same time, the coach remembers having a great attitude and some fun is important during practice too.

The biggest transition from swimming to coaching, Miller said, “was recognizing that different athletes are motivated in different ways.”

The coach said the road to success will never be the same from team to team or even from athlete to athlete.

“One of the biggest challenges as a coach is to find what motivates each individual … to help them achieve their goals,” she said.

Miller said being new to NU is exciting because it will offer a fresh perspective for the swimmers, who she said have responded very well to her high expectations.

“(Miller) is intense but also has a loving side as well, which is what I think is a good combination in coaching,” freshman Lacey Locke said.

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