New leader of the Pack; Former AHS swimmer takes over as head of the boys team

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

For eight years Austin grad Michelle Swank watched long-time Packer boys swimming and diving head coach Lynn Gulbrandson lead the team. Now she’s ready to take her turn at the helm.

Swank, who graduated from AHS in 2005, swam under Gulbrandson until her junior year and she switched to team manager her senior season. After graduating from Winona State University, Swank came back to Austin to teach and she was soon assisting as a coach with the boys and girls swim teams.

She’s looking forward to using the knowledge she’s gained over the years.

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“I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’ve learned, not only from [Gulbrandson], but from the other Big Nine coaches,” Swank said. “I really got to know how [Gulbrandson] works and how he worked with the Owatonna coaches and the Mankato coaches. They would all work together and I would like to continue that legacy.”

Swank has a great appreciation for the sport of swimming. She appreciates the effort it takes for swimmers to improve and she loves watching swimmers progress throughout the season.

“Swimming has been really rewarding for me,” Swank said. “You can see the data, you can see the times change and you can see it on their faces. It’s the one sport that you can look down the lane of the pool and you can see how excited they are for their success. The kids are also excited for the success of their teammates and I think that builds on team success.”

The Packer boys swimming and diving team has had a lot of accomplishments over the past few years as it has sent multiple swimmers to the Class A state meet and many of those swimmers have reached the podium, while setting new AHS records.

Swank is hoping to keep that momentum going.

“I’m very excited [to lead the team]. I have a lot of respect for the boys and their families and I feel like they have a lot of respect for me as well. We work really well together and they’re not afraid to tell me when they want to try something new. I think that’s important, because that helps to grow a strong team,” Swank said. “I had a great role model and I hope I can make him happy, as well as all the parents. It’s all about the students and it’s about their success.”

The Packers will open their season at Albert Lea at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. Austin will hold it home opener against Rochester John Marshall at 6 p.m. Jan. 5.