Nicole Carter, the newly appointed head coach for Brandeis University’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, arrived on campus last Monday ready to dive into work.

On Aug. 29, the University announced that Carter would replace Mike Kotch following a Human Resources investigation into Kotch. 

In a Sept. 6 joint interview with the Justice and the Brandeis Hoot, University President Ron Liebowitz explained that the administration did not put out a press release regarding the investigation and departure of Kotch because of “privacy issues in terms of our personnel.” 

Liebowitz confirmed that the administration received an anonymous letter from members of the swimming teams. The letter was forwarded from Human Resources to the independent investigation team tasked with investigating the Athletics department after Brandeis men’s basketball coach Brian Meehan’s 2017 dismissal. Liebowitz said he hopes that a future report from the independent investigators will help the University “improve our policies and procedures.” 

In a separate interview with the Justice, interim Athletics Director Jeff Ward echoed Liebowitz’s sentiment: “With personnel issues, it’s always difficult to share details,” he said. 

Ward praised Carter, saying, “I’m excited to be working with her. I think she understands what it means to be at an institution like Brandeis. I think she’s an excellent coach, I think she’s full of passion and enthusiasm, I think she’ll do a great job.”

Carter graduated from Wheaton College in 2002 and brings with her eight seasons of experience as assistant coach to the Wheaton swimming team. She has coached “two All-Americans, four Junior National swimmers, and five Massachusetts state champions,” according to the University’s announcement of her hiring.

In an interview with the Justice, Carter explained how she wound up at Brandeis. “I was at Wheaton College in my ninth year. … My supervisor, Barrett Roberts, head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, saw it posted online and said, ‘You better apply for this.’” 

The Brandeis University swimming and diving team held their first meeting on Wednesday. Carter said, “I’ve not seen such an attentive, energetic group in a long time. They were just locked in. They want to hear about the future of the team, my coaching philosophy, my priorities. … [The team] was so welcoming, just coming in to say hi and introduce themselves.” 

Carter also shared that she will be holding one-on-one meetings with each member of the swimming team. She explained that she wanted to “go over what they want to get out of this experience, not only as an athlete, but also as a person.” 

Carter acknowledged that adjusting to a new coach is always difficult as it requires building trust, “communicating and just having an open mind.” 

Uniting the team is part of Carter’s long-term goal to “[get] us on the national stage — …  NCAA.”

Carter explained, “We can’t be successful on paper until we come together as a unit, as a family.” Success, she said, has a lot to do with “recruiting and bringing in higher caliber athletes. But,” she continued, “we can’t bring those athletes in until the team is solidified.” 

In response to being asked whether such recruitment is realistic, Carter said she feels confident, and that the team is “so eager to get going and so supportive of each other. They just want to be channeled in the right direction, challenged and supported.”

Carter is not the only one who is excited. In an interview with the Justice, swimmer Ben Francis ’21 said, “We met as a team in the athletic room and talked with Nicole. The energy we felt going out of the team meeting was one of real motivation.” 

Gazelle Umbay ’22, a first-year swimmer, added, “I have met some of the most welcoming and enthusiastic people on the swim team and I’m even more excited to be competing together with everyone. Everyone plays a part that contributes to the team as a whole, so that’s what makes me the most pumped for the season.” 

Tamir Zitelny ’20 added, “I think as a team we’re all very excited to see what Nicole can do for us. I know she has a proven track record and we’re ready to work hard under her guidance. … We see a lot of success in our future. We’re hoping to get more people to NCAA this year and make some serious moves in the UA conference.”