May 29, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford synchronized swimming head coach Heather Olson has announced her retirement from coaching as of Sep. 1, 2012. Current Stanford assistant coach Sara Lowe will take over the reigns as head coach for the Cardinal.
"It was a very tough decision for me to leave Stanford and the synchro program because Stanford is such an amazing place," said Olson. "The athletes I have had the opportunity to work with here have been exceptional people above and beyond their athletic skills."
A former synchronized swimmer for the Cardinal, Olson graduated from Stanford in 1999 and took over the head coaching role in 2001. As both a student-athlete and coach, Olson played a role in five of the six Stanford collegiate national championships, as a student-athlete in 1998 and as a coach for four straight seasons from 2005-08.
"I am so grateful to Ted Leland and Earl Koberlein for hiring me and believing in the program," stated Olson. "Support from Beth Goode, Chris Hutchins and Bob Bowlsby has been phenomenal, and it has been an incredible environment to coach in. I am excited to have this time to be home with my children, but I will miss being a part of the Stanford family immensely."
In 2008, under the guidance of Olson, Stanford became the first collegiate team to capture a U.S. National title. Lowe, then a senior, placed first in the solo, duet and team competitions for the Cardinal.
"Heather has coached at Stanford for a long time and has developed the synchronized swimming program into a strong, championship program," said Lowe. "I will miss Heather and hope to make as strong an impact at Stanford as she has."
Lowe has served as the assistant coach for the Cardinal for the past three seasons and as the volunteer assistant in 2009. A member of the Stanford team from 2004-08, Lowe was a four-time Collegiate All-American and a member of the Cardinal teams which won four consecutive Collegiate national championships.
"Sara Lowe is the perfect person to lead the synchro program back to the top," said Olson. "She has a great talent for choreography and has a true passion for the team. I am thrilled to see her coming in to be the head coach."
Serving as captain for three years at Stanford, Lowe earned the title of Collegiate High Point Athlete in each of her four years competing and combined with her teammates to win over 20 national titles. She won the gold medal in every event she entered over her four-year career with the Cardinal.
"I am very excited to be taking over the role of head coach in the fall," said Lowe. "Having had the opportunity to swim for Heather as an athlete at Stanford and then be her assistant for a number of years, I know I have a learned a great deal from her that will help make the transition seamless."
Stanford is set to host the 2013 U.S. Collegiate Nationals next March and will return five members from the U.S. National Team to its roster in the fall. One of those members is Maria Koroleva, who will be competing in the duet for the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics this summer.
"Stanford will host the U.S. Collegiate Championships next March, and with five returning Olympic squad members and a solid freshmen class, I am excited to dive into my first year as head coach," said Lowe.
Olson and Lowe led the 2012 Cardinal to a runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals and a fourth-place showing at the Collegiate Nationals this spring.