TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute’s strong connection with the Indiana University swimming program got a little bit stronger last month.
Terre Haute native Donny Brush, who had spent the previous eight seasons on IU’s staff as an assistant coach (the last four as “assistant head coach for the coordination of training and student athlete development”), was promoted June 30 to the position of associate head coach for men’s and women’s swimming.
“He will become lead coach for our women’s team while continuing to work with our men,” IU head coach Ray Looze explained on the university’s athletics website. “Coach Brush will also be based out of the middle distance women’s group, but similarly to [assistant] coach [Mike] Westphal, have impact in all training groups.”
The 39-year-old Brush, who built memories and lifelong friendships as a young age-group swimmer in Terre Haute in the mid and late 1980s, said he didn’t start thinking about coaching as a profession until after he graduated from Terre Haute South High School in 1992. Along the way, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Indiana State in 2001 and a master’s degree in coaching from ISU in 2010.
In 2012-13 under the direction of Brush, the IU men set school records in the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. The Hoosier men finished second in the 2013 Big Ten championships and placed ninth in the NCAA championships, the highest finish for the Hoosiers since 1980.
On the women’s side, a total of four school records fell in 2012-13 as the squad placed second in the Big Ten championships and 11th in the NCAA championships.
With Brush’s guidance, the Hoosier women won their third straight Big Ten title in 2010-11, taking the crown in their home pool. IU took home four individual and relay Big Ten titles and went on to earn a total of 21 All-American certificates in the NCAA championships.
“Donny is one of the most innovative coaches in USA Swimming,” Looze pointed out. “His expertise in power training has brought our program to what I believe to be the most comprehensive pulley [power] training systems in the world. He is also respected throughout the world for his wisdom in seasonal planning. Lastly, coach Brush will take on added responsibilities in recruiting as director of off-campus recruiting.”
Once Brush made up his mind as a young adult, he began his coaching career in Terre Haute.
He served as co-head coach for the Terre Haute Aquatic Club (1993-96), head coach at South High School for one season (1996-97) and head coach for the Terre Haute Torpedoes youth team (1997-2000). The Torpedoes garnered six consecutive Central Indiana State Conference championships during that time.
Prior to coming to IU in 2005, Brush worked as an assistant coach for Longhorn Aquatics in Austin, Texas, from 2004 to 2005. During his time in the Lone Star State, Longhorn was recognized by USA Swimming as the top Gold Medal Club in the nation.
Previously, he operated as head age-group and senior assistant coach for the Carmel Swim Club from 2002 to 2004. Under his tutelage, the squad received national recognition as the top USA Swimming Silver Medal Club.
Before his time at Carmel, Brush served as head coach and CEO of the Newburgh Sea Creatures from 2000 to 2002.
Now IU appears to be his long-term home.
“Since joining coach Looze’s staff in 2005, it’s been an honor to work with him and coach [Mike] Westphal to help develop one of the strongest swimming and diving teams in the Big Ten Conference,” Brush told the Tribune-Star on Friday.
One of his recent recruits is 2013 South graduate Grace Padget, who will be an IU freshman for the upcoming season. She came in 14th in the 100 butterfly and 16th in the 100 backstroke during the 2013 IHSAA state championships.
“We see a lot of upside in her,” Brush assessed. “She has a good underwater dolphin kick that we think we can develop into being one of the best in the Big Ten. She’s got a lot of natural talent and she’s a hard worker in the classroom and in the pool.”
On an unrelated note, Brush said South graduate Nolan Roach has left the IU men’s swimming program after competing as a freshman last season.