The Albion College Swim Team will have new faces on the pool deck this season, most notably first-year coach Jake Taber.
Taber will take over the Albion College swimming program, following the 27-year tenure of Keith Havens. After the first week of MIAA swimming, the Briton men are 0-1, and the Briton women are 1-1.
Taber hopes to bring new energy and new perspective to the swimming and diving teams. The new coach has been involved in MIAA swimming since 2004, when he was a student at Hope College. Taber was an MIAA Champion on Hope’s 200 Free Relay team in 2004, and was an honorable mention NCAA All-American that same year.
Taber spent the last five years coaching at Olivet College, where he ran an extremely successful program. He coached 14 swimmers who achieved All-MIAA honors during his tenure, while also receiving the American Swimming Coaches Association Award of Excellence twice.
Taber had many reasons for choosing Albion, but said the school’s rigorous academic standards stood out.
“One of the things I have always known about Albion is the outstanding academic reputation, the quality of the education here,” Taber said. “I think that’s consistent with my experience growing up.”
While the arrival of a new coach will always bring changes, Taber is very aware of the incredible legacy he has to build on.
“Coach Havens is a guy that knows this sport incredibly well,” Taber said. “I think an important thing for me is to identify what are the things that worked well for Coach Havens and continue to make sure those things are a part of the program.”
Current Britons have taken to Taber’s coaching style, noting how well he connects with his swimmers.
“Coach Taber is very passionate about this team and the sport,” said Spencer Skillman, Ann Arbor junior. “Some of his speeches to the team have been really inspirational.”
But Taber is not the only former Comet new to the Britons this year. Brian Fiorillo, Southgate junior, transferred from Olivet College and should provide Albion with a huge boost in the water this season.
Fiorillo was named to the All-MIAA team last season after winning both the 50 and 100 Freestyle at the MIAA Championship meet. At the same meet, he was also on the teams that won the 200 Freestyle Relay and the 200 Medley relay. Fiorillo says the squad has made him feel comfortable at his new school.
“Coming in as a junior, everyone is pretty well-established, but they’ve welcomed me with open arms,” Fiorillo said.
While Fiorillo was already looking to leave Olivet when Coach Taber was hired by Albion, he admits that following his coach was a major part of his decision. Fiorillo said he is prepared to share his knowledge of Taber’s program with his new teammates.
“I expected some questions,” Fiorillo said. “I’ve been with Coach Taber for three years, so I can explain how and why he wants things done.”
Taber himself has been impressed with what he has seen in practice. He said he has noticed improvement from his swimmers already.
“The group that we have here steps out on the pool deck to get better,” Taber said.
With a new look and a new attitude, the Briton swimmers have a lot of potential this season. If the team adapts to their new coach, the Albion College swim teams can count on success.
Photo courtesy of the Albion College Athletic Department