In May 2019, Mark Gangloff ended his tenure as an associate head coach at Missouri and accepted the head coaching position for the North Carolina swimming and diving programs. In his first season in Chapel Hill, UNC saw improvement and looks primed for continued success.
Gangloff said one of his goals for both the men’s and women’s teams in coaching the Tar Heels was to improve their results at the ACC Championships.
In Gangloff’s inaugural season, with hard work and an emphasis on team culture, his goal was achieved.
While it is unfair to compare a full 2018-2019 season to a shortened 2019-2020 campaign, the Tar Heels saw increased success in their abbreviated season.
A fourth-place finish by the women's team at the ACC Championships marked a three-spot improvement from the previous year, and the men’s squad earned a seventh-place finish, an improvement from a 10th place finish in 2019. Both results showed progress for a program that experienced major leadership changes in the offseason.
Eight members of the women's swim team were on the verge of an appearance at the NCAA Championships before all remaining winter and spring competition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Gangloff said he built the team's foundation on the principles of integrity, respect and honesty. He said these ideals created strong relationships between teammates and coaches and a team culture conducive to success.
With the season canceled, Gangloff was in a difficult position because his understanding of coaching came largely from giving in-person feedback — with no regular practices or meetings, an adjustment was necessary.
Like many coaches across the country, Gangloff used Zoom to meet with his team to discuss team and individual goals moving forward.
“Our emphasis has been 'what are your goals for next season,' 'what are the team goals for next season,'" Gangloff said. “'What are we going to do to make those dreams a reality?'”
When describing team goals for next season, Gangloff said the Tar Heels want to show grit and continue to persevere. He said the men’s team wants to be stronger, both mentally and physically, and the women's squad wants to further build their culture of equally supporting each other.
With championship season canceled last year, Gangloff said the Tar Heels shifted focus onto next season and how they can continue to improve when they get back in the pool. He said he expects the team to come back stronger and that his unit looks forward to getting back to work.
“We have a clearer set of goals and expectations around our team, I think will pay dividends later on,” Gangloff said. “We’re now at the point in time where we are ready to start doing our sport again and we’re ready to start reengaging each other.”
While the NCAA has yet to make an official ruling on the return of sports in 2020, Gangloff is cautiously optimistic at the opportunity to have his team back in the pool. According to UNC's athletics roadmap for a return to campus, swimming and diving athletes and coaches will be able to return on Aug. 3.
“I’m excited to coach, they’re excited to train, they’re excited to race,” Gangloff said. “We’ll race anybody, we’ll train anytime in any pool, so for us right now, we’re not being specific.”
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