Swimming is often considered one of the most difficult sports, but Hollie Bonewit-Cron, head coach of swimming and diving, is no stranger to success in the pool.
Bonewit-Cron began swimming at a young age after watching her brother’s swimming career blossom. She strives for success based on the inspiration her brother instilled in her.
“My brother was a very successful swimmer, and he went on to not only compete at the U.S. Olympic festival, but he also went to the University of Florida and was an All-American there,” she said. “He’s seven years older than me, so he was definitely someone I looked up to when I was getting into swimming. Just seeing what he was doing and the success he was having, I wanted to try to emulate that.”
But success didn’t come easy for Bonewit-Cron. Her college swimming career had a rough start, but through hard work, dedication and a little help from her coach, Bonewit-Cron was able to achieve incredible levels of success throughout the course of her career.
“I swam at Ohio University all four years. I started off as not a very good swimmer at all,” she said. “I was barely keeping up with everybody, but I finished up on a very high note, a very successful note, over the course of four years. I ended up going to the Division I NCAA Championships two years, my junior and senior years, and I was an All-American my senior year.”
Bonewit-Cron went to the U.S. Olympic trials and was a 17-time MAC Champion. At one time, she was ranked 42nd in the world in the 200 short course meter breaststroke.
“But my college coach really developed me into who I became as a swimmer toward the end of my career,” said Bonewit-Cron. “I was changing a lot of my freshman year, and even more so during my sophomore year, and that helped catapult me into what I did during my junior and senior year.”
Deciding to become a coach was not an easy decision for Bonewit-Cron; choosing between her love of swimming and her passion for sports psychology seemed impossible. But she discovered how to combine her two passions and has created a dynamic coaching style out of it.
Bonewit-Cron got into coaching after she was done with her college career. She went on to Georgia Southern, where she pursued her master’s degree for two years and was a graduate assistant.
“At that point, I was trying to make the decision to stay in sports psychology or compete in and coach swimming,” she said. “And what was unique was that I finally discovered that I could do both. I could do the sports psychology within the realm of coaching, and I decided to go into coaching.”
Bonewit-Cron feels very fortunate that she came across University of Florida coaches who had a position open for a female assistant.
“Apparently, I said all the right things, and I got the job at UF. It was life changing to go to that program and coach for six years,” she said.
Bonewit-Cron uses her sports psychology background in order to relate to her athletes.
“One of the techniques I use is strong listening skills, and that helps me have a feel for the athletes, knowing when they walk on the pool deck how they’re feeling just based on their body language and really listening to what their needs are,” said Bonewit-Cron.
Discipline is also a major component in Bonewit-Cron’s coaching style; she uses the motto “If you are disciplined, you won’t need to be disciplined” to instill a firm respect for self-discipline in her athletes.
But Bonewit-Cron also finds the disciplinary side of coaching to be one of the job’s most difficult aspects. She said that no matter what you do, some athletes may never follow along with their coaches disciplinary strategies.
She said, “You want everyone to subscribe to your program, but not everyone’s going to subscribe to it, and I understand that. But we try to make the program fit everybody’s needs in some way, shape or form.”
Going on, Bonewit-Cron hopes her insistence on discipline will make the team pay attention to detail this season, which she hopes will, ultimately, help her athletes improve their times.
“That’s what we’re working on in practice, and that’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in meets,” she said. “The attention to detail is mainly what we’re trying to achieve for the end of the year, and we’re trying to not focus on the opponents as much as the times.”
Although Bonewit-Cron has seen a massive amount of success in her career, both as a swimmer and as a coach, she said her proudest moments are seeing her athletes succeeding and enjoying the sport she loves so much.
Bonewit-Cron said, “It’s not one given moment that I’m proud of; it’s seeing the excitement and happiness on the athletes’ faces when they succeed. That is one of the most rewarding features and aspects of this job. When the people you coach put in the time, and their work ethic is fulfilled through their success, that’s what I love to see. Of course, I could point out the National Champions we had last year or the Conference Championship we had last year or the Conference Championship we won our very first year out of nowhere. Those are moments in time that I’m very proud of, but, overall, I’m most proud when our athletes’ hard work is turned into success.”