Featured Image: Head Coach Kristian Ramkvist coaches his athletes
at a practice on Sept. 22. Colette Kearney|Marlin Chronicle
Virginia Wesleyan’s Swim program dives into a new direction with their latest hire: Head Coach Kristian Ramkvist.
Ramkvist a native of Bjarred, Sweden, swam for Old Dominion University before graduating in 2010 with a degree in Business Management. Ramkvist still holds a top-10 record in the Old Dominion University record books for the Men’s 200 yard breaststroke.
Since graduating, he has coached on multiple levels: from the club and collegiate level to being an aquatic trainer for the Navy Special Forces. Ramkvist coached locally in Norfolk and has been involved in the swimming community.
Ramkvist was enticed by the Virginia Wesleyan community. “Whenever I stepped on this campus, I felt like a pretty nice place to be. The people seemed really positive and welcoming here so it made me want to dabble in Division III,” Ramkvist said.
As the swim season started, Ramkvist took the opportunity to get to know the team and the culture of the program.
“It’s been fun getting to know the swimmers because I think it’s been a lot of positive surprises,” Ramkvist said. “The more I get in here with them, the more time I spend with them, the better I feel. Everyday gets better and better.”
One of the senior captains, Chloe Dewberry, gave her perspective on Ramkvist joining the program and the changes he is implementing. “It’s a lot of different training than we’re used to, but I think it is benefiting us so far. Him coming from a Division I school gives him a different perspective so he is implementing more intensity than we’re used to at the Division III level,” Dewberry said.
A main focus for Ramkvist is to strengthen the swimmers by applying more out of water training and weight lifting to the team’s regiment. Ramkvist said he is “trying to add strength in a different way by adding body strength overall so that my swimmers can get strong and confident.”
Assistant Coach Sito Arroyo expressed a positive outlook on Ramkvist’s changes while sharing that swimmers have already beat their personal bests despite it being early into the season. “This season we are approaching things differently by implementing ‘dry land’ workouts which I think is what is helping them become stronger swimmers because they are becoming better athletes outside the pool,” Arroyo said. “As we progress into the season and continue to do it more, it will get easier and the team will see results.”
The team culture has grown stronger as Ramkvist came in. “We have a really close family-like feel already which I think has helped us transition to a new coach, because we’re all very close, especially with the returners,” Dewberry said.
Ramkvist plans on creating a hard working team environment that encourages each swimmer to put their best effort in for the team and be their best selves. “I also want to make sure it is a very welcoming space for everyone to be at, like if you are here and ready to listen and work hard for the team, then you are welcome here,” Ramkvist said.
Focusing on the team culture and making sure everyone on the team feels respected has also been a priority. “Getting that team culture where we’re all feeling that we have the same goal of creating a hard working team, I think that’s the biggest part,” said Ramkvist.
Ramkvist is not rushing to look at meet times but instead wants to get to know the swimmers and put the focus on practice. “Making the magic happen in practice and believing the process and getting the swimmers to do the same thing this first year. It’s based more on what we do at practice than what we do at swim meets right now at least,” Ramkvist said.
Dewberry gives insight on where the Marlins stand amongst the competition and the conference goals for the team as the season is approaching. “We’ve climbed up the ranks in the ODAC, and we’ve established ourselves as a top half finisher in the ODAC conference. It’s just furthering that and growing the team because we have to work to stay in that top half,” Dewberry said.
The coaches’ main goal is to focus on the swimmers as individuals as well as to get each swimmer to be at top performance. “The goal is always to rewrite the program’s record board, even this early it’s been pretty exciting but the goal is always to have a peak at ODAC so that the swimmers are at their best by the final meet,” Arroyo said.
Approaching recruiting from a different perspective, Ramkvist has looked at local and out-of-state talent by traveling to different swim meets. “He is definitely doing things recruiting wise that we haven’t done in the past and I think it is paying off. Kristian is doing a great job of getting the school’s name out there and getting very talented athletes because of it,” Arroyo said.
“As a senior, I feel like it’s part of my responsibility to keep that family culture, especially since we’ve just got such a big change,” said Dewberry. Explaining that even after she leaves the program the team should continue “keeping the family feel and like passing that culture down to the next generations of the team would be my goal.”
The team starts competition Friday Oct. 7 against Southern Virginia University starting at 6 p.m. and again on Saturday Oct. 8 at ODAC Relays on the campus of Washington and Lee University starting at 12 p.m. Both meets take place in Lexington, VA.
By: Mikayla Szudera