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Third year swim coach making a historic splash for North Texas

Third year swim coach making a historic splash for North Texas

Head Coach Brendon Brey explains how to do one of the drills to the swim team. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

Third year swim coach making a historic splash for North Texas
February 04
04:30 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

In just his third season coaching the North Texas women’s swim team, Brendon Bray has already etched his name in the record books by orchestrating the best start to a season in Mean Green history.

“Coaching for North Texas has been a blast for me,” Bray said.

After a collegiate swim career at the University of Utah and the University of Washington, Bray entered the coaching realm as an undergraduate assistant coach with the Huskies immediately after graduating in 2004. A year later, he became the men’s and women’s team’s assistant coach from 2005-2007, where he helped coach several NCAA Championships participants and recruited some of the top players in the nation.

From there, Bray landed an assistant women’s swimming coaching gig at San Diego State University in 2007 – a program that finished in last place at the Mountain West Conference meet five straight seasons prior to Bray’s arrival.

Bray bucked that trend, leading SDSU to its first Mountain West Championship in 2011, its second in 2013, a 26-1 record in dual meets, and three Mountain West Swimmers of the Year.

“I learned a lot about what it took to be a successful swim coach at San Diego State,” Bray said. “Working with all the great coaches and athletes there prepared me to be able to handle taking over as head coach here.”

Women’s swimming head coach Brandon Brey poses for a portrait after their meet against TCU. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

Women’s swimming head coach Brendon Brey poses for a portrait after their meet against TCU. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

The San Francisco native left SDSU to join the North Texas as its head coach in 2013 in the Mean Green’s inaugural season in Conference USA. In that season, North Texas set four program records, with three NCAA B-qualifying times in three events.

Although achieving success with the Mean Green didn’t take long, Bray said starting over with an entirely new roster was a huge adjustment.

“At San Diego State, we had really high-level swimmers that were really successful. Here I had to learn to work with the swimmers I hadn’t recruited,” Bray said. “I had to work really hard to build relationships with them and have them trust me, and that takes time. You just can’t walk in the door and do that right away.”

Senior Bianca Bocsa started swimming for the Mean Green the year before Bray arrived and said he’s one of the best coaches she’s ever had.

“Since he came to this team, he believed in me,” Bocsa said. “My freshman year wasn’t a very good year, but he’s so flexible and always tries to please everybody, which not a lot of coaches are able to do.”

Bray’s positive attitude towards the team separates him from other coaches, according to Bocsa.

“He smiles and jokes around all the time and knows how to get us going,” Bocsa said. “He has an individual plan for every single one of us here, and it’s hard to keep up with 30 girls.”

The Mean Green’s 7-3 dual meet record this season marks the best start in school history and the second most regular season wins ever for the team. Bray’s squad set the record for best start in team history last season as well by starting 3-1, eventually leading North Texas to a fifth place C-USA tournament finish.

With Bray’s third season at North Texas winding down, he said he feels the team is finally competing at a standard he knew they could reach.

“It’s taken us a year or two to get there, but I think this is our first year of really operating at an efficient level,” Bray said. “It wasn’t a lack of talent. It’s more about having a team trust in the vision and the program and having a team together operating as one.”

After a sluggish 1-3 start to the season, the Mean Green has put together six straight victories and hasn’t lost a game since October.

“We did a lot of training earlier in the fall, and now I think we’re starting to reap the benefits of it,” Bray said.

Volunteer Assistant Coach Jessica Rodriguez reviews the swimming exercise with the team. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

Volunteer Assistant Coach Jessica Rodriguez reviews the swimming exercise with the team. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

North Texas has also collected two of the last three C-USA Swimmer of the Week awards through the efforts of sophomore Sarah Vaisse and freshman Rebekah Bradley. Vaisse said she enjoys playing for Bray because he brings the best out of each player.

“We can talk about anything with him whether we’re having a problem with school or family,” Vaisse said. “My family’s in France, so I’m a little nostalgic sometimes when I miss them. But we can talk to Brendon about anything, and he’s always understandable.”

As Bray continues to write his chapter in the North Texas history books, he said keeping cohesiveness amongst himself and the team to help them improve is his main priority.

“When we aspire to have people who are swimming at a really high level, they have to have an incredible amount of knowledge and self-drive,” Bray said. “I can’t instill that in them, but I can help them get there.”

Featured Image: Head Coach Brendon Brey explains how to do one of the drills to the swim team. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

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