July 3, 2012
STANFORD, Calif.-- Stanford head women's swim coach Lea Maurer made the decision to step back from her coaching career to devote more time to her family.
Returning to the Cardinal in 2005-06, Maurer coached back-to-back Pac-10 team championships in 2010 and 2011. At the national level, the Cardinal were NCAA runners-up in 2010 and finished third in 2008. Maurer coached at least 15 All-American finishes in each of her seven seasons and finished fifth or better at the NCAA Championships in each those seasons as well.
"There is not a day that goes by that my connection to Stanford does not have an impact on my life. The Stanford community is a special place bound together by a group of people pursuing dreams in so many areas. I will always be a part of that community and am honored to share the connection with the women I've brought in, my teammates when I swam here, my husband, Erik, who I met here and so many others that are a part of my Stanford family.” said Maurer a former Olympic gold medalist.
“I am so proud of what we achieved as a team in the past seven years, the tremendous effort put forth by a group of amazing young women and the contribution we’ve made to the Stanford Swimming tradition. Right now, I am feeling a pull to commit more time and energy to my family and I believe the time is right for me to honor that pull.”
Overall she coached 13 NCAA champions and 37 individual conference champions.
Maurer coached three Olympians at Stanford. Two of her star pupils were 2008 Olympic medalists in former NCAA champions Julia Smit and Elaine Breeden.
“I was part of Lea’s first recruiting class at Stanford. I had heard a lot of different things about her,” said Breeden to USA Swimming in March. “She had actually coached Matt Grevers in high school, so while I was being recruited I talked to Matt about her, and he had only the highest praise for her. So I trusted his opinion. Everything I saw about her in recruiting was awesome. So I went with my heart, and it totally paid off. We have an awesome relationship.”
Smit and Breeden each re-wrote the record books in their respective events with Breeden leaving as the school record holder in the 100 and 200 butterfly and Smit posting Stanford's best times in the 200 back, 200 IM and 400 IM.
“Stanford was an incredible experience. I wouldn’t have changed the last 5½ years for anything,” said Breeden to USA Swimming in March. “I learned a lot about being a teammate, and about what it means to swim for more than just your personal goals. That is what has made swimming as a post grad so difficult for me – not having that there – though I have been fortunate to swim with the team now, though this is nothing compared to racing at NCAAs with them and competing for a team championship.”
Tara Kirk, another Olympian, trained with the Cardinal during Maurer's first years on the Stanford pool deck and went on to set American records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke after her arrival.
“When Lea came to Stanford, not only did I get faster - shattering my old American records - but I also found a great mentor,” said Kirk, who swam in the 2004 Olympics. “Lea allowed me to own my own swimming career, gave me someone to look up to and try to emulate in the process, and became a great friend. I always knew that Lea cared deeply for me as a person, and the partnership that we forged was founded on mutual respect and the understanding that we were both committed to making me faster.”
Showing the team's depth throughout her tenure, the Cardinal placed teams in the A or B finals of the NCAA Championships in every relay, winning three NCAA relay titles.
“I think Lea has really been instrumental in my development the past four years as a swimmer and also as a woman,” said three-time NCAA relay champion Sam Woodward. “She, more than any other person at Stanford, has made clear for me which qualities build a strong character and inspire others. I think I'm a stronger leader because of her and furthermore I know I'm a better competitor and am better equipped to help others succeed because of the feedback I've gotten from her and Erik.”
Prior to coming to Stanford, Maurer served one year as an assistant at Northwestern (1994-95) before coaching10 years at Lake Forest High, where she won a pair of state titles on the girl's side (2002 and 2003) and another on the boy's side (2003).
The former Stanford great, swam for the Cardinal under Richard Quick from 1991 to 1994 for some of the NCAA's top teams of all-time. Stanford won national titles in 1992, 1993 and 1994, as the former Lea Loveless won three consecutive NCAA titles in the 100 back and another in the 200 back. She was also a member of six winning NCAA relay teams. Loveless won a combined 15 Pac-10 individual and relay titles (eight relays). She was 21-time All-American, earning 19 of those top-16 finishes at Stanford. She attended the University of Florida in 1989 and 1990, before the New York native moved West. She was inducted in the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Lea Maurer has more integrity and heart than anyone in the sport of swimming. As an athlete she competed with passion and intellect and that has only become more apparent in her coaching- she loves Stanford and gives her team 100 percent every single day,” said former teammate and fellow Olympian Jenny Thompson. “To Lea, winning is not the only piece of the puzzle. She's setting the women of the Stanford women's swim team up to be good people, proud alumni, and leaders in the community. Anyone who follows her lead will be successful in life.”
A 1992 Olympic medalist, she would spend 11 years on the U.S. national team, holding the American record in the 100 back from 1992 to 2001, a mark she originally set as the lead off leg of the gold medal winning 4x100 American relay team at the 1992 Olympics. She also won a bronze medal in the 100 back in Barcelona. Her accomplishments in the pool earned her a spot on USA Swimming All-Century team.
Maurer earned a degree from The Farm in American Studies and also a Master's in education.
"We would like to thank Lea for all she has done for Stanford University and the Stanford Swimming program, first as a student-athlete and the last seven years as Head Coach,” said Earl Koberlein, senior associate athletics director. “ Lea has poured her heart and soul into this program and we are grateful for her unmatched passion and exemplary leadership."