Leigh Askin, a 2003 graduate of Caesar Rodney High School, has taken over as the new head coach of the Rider swim program.

Following four years of calling Caesar Rodney High School her home school, and attending and swimming at the University of Delaware, Leigh Askin has returned to lead the team that shaped her.

Askin, a 2003 CR graduate that now teaches at the high school, has been named head coach of the boys and girls swimming teams.

She met with the Dover Post Nov. 18 to discuss what she plans on bringing to the program as well as why her roots in the area make her the perfect person for the job.

Q What made you decide to take this job?
A I swam for CR for four years. It was a phenomenal experience. My coaches were very inspirational and they helped me swim in college later. My sister swims for the team and a lot of kids that I coached when they were younger, they’re on the team. I really love the community, I love Caesar Rodney High School and their tradition, and I really just wanted to be a part and help the team and create a strong program.

Q What is your coaching background?
A I began assistant coaching for the YMCA the summer after my junior year. I was 16. I worked the summers from when I was 16 until I was about 21 at the YMCA … so I had a lot of experience from that. When I graduated college I then became an assistant coach for the CR team, so it’s been a total of eight or nine years I’ve been coaching.

Q What are the benefits of being in the school all day as a teacher with the kids?
A A lot of the swimmers that come into high school I already have a base with them. They know who I am and I know who they are. A lot of times kids come in and are a little scared to come into a swim team, especially if they’ve never swam. So I think being from CR, having swam in high school for the school, it’s kind of a new perspective for them to understand that I can help with.

Q Do you feel like there’s a deeper commitment because of your roots in the community?
A Yeah I definitely do. I also remember some of the things that I really enjoyed that we did as a team that had a tradition I can kind of bring back to the team that maybe has gone by the wayside the past couple of years, some things I may not have liked that I can change. Just being in high school and being an athlete I can remember what support athletes need as students, as athletes in the community and as young adults.

Q What would you like to bring to the program?
A I’d like to provide more depth. I really want to focus on providing swimmers with the opportunity to succeed, and be able to place in some conference races and qualify for states. I want to make it fun for them. We’re going to be creative and have a lot of athlete input on how the team is run and what activities we want to do. They’re voting on some quotes, getting some input on team fundraisers and team events, and occasionally they’ll be allowed to write practices. I want to make the team as much their team as it is mine.

Q What’s the benefit of giving the kids that kind of responsibility on the team?
A It gives them individual ownership and it helps them encourage other swimmers. If everyone feels like they’re a part of the team, they’re more likely to step up and help out their fellow swimmer that’s struggling or congratulate another swimmer that’s done really well. I think it just really builds the team itself as more of a family instead of competing against each other.

AGE 25
HIGH SCHOOL Caesar Rodney High School class of 2003
COLLEGE University of Delaware class of 2008, bachelor’s in secondary history education
EMPLOYMENT Teacher of economics, and world and U.S. history at Caesar Rodney High School

Email Brian Citino at brian.citino@doverpost.com