2017 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships

Event: Feb. 22-25 | Federal Way, WA

2017 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships: Arizona State's Bob Bowman enjoying rebuilding Sun Devils program

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Federal Way, Wash. – It hasn’t even been a fully two years, but Bob Bowman is already making a big impact at Arizona State.

After years of coaching at the Olympic level – as an assistant coach with the US team in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Bowman assumed the head coaching role in 2016 in Rio.

You might also be slightly familiar with a mentee of his – the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps. Phelps has been training with Bowman for his entire career – since he was 11 years old – and helped coach him back to Olympic form after Phelps un-retired in 2014.

Transitioning from the pros to college has been an adjustment for Bowman.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far. Very different. Instead of dealing with professional athletes, I get to spend time with these guys, who are at such a great point in their lives, developing as people as much as they are athletes.”

Being on a campus and being around his student-athletes as they grow up is a big reason why he took the job.

“I actually love living in Phoenix, and being a part of the school in general. I’ve been able to interact a lot more with the campus as a whole, as well as the swim team.”

His enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s already having an impact on recruiting.  

“What’s really happened is their attitude and team culture has been so much better. We brought in a huge class of freshmen. They bought in to what we’re doing, and they’re really helping us a lot, and I look forward to the next class we’re bringing in because everyone will just make us better.”

One freshman is already making the team better. Silja Kansakoski took home the Pac-12 title in the 100 yard breaststroke on Friday night at the 2017 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships in Federal Way, with a time of 58.44.

[Related highlights: Arizona State's Silja Kansakoski takes home title in 100 breaststroke]

It was not only a big win for Kansakoski, but for the program as a whole.

“Silja was great tonight…it’s really good for us to have someone win a Pac-12 Championship. It hadn’t happened at ASU in a long time, maybe five years, so we’re very excited about that.”

That wasn’t the only impressive swim from the Sun Devils this week. Alysha Bush, Ingibjorg Jonsdottir, Claire Fisch, and Kat Simonovic set a new school record in the 200 freestyle relay on Thursday night, and several swimmers have posted personal best times – something that Bowman says is encouraging before NCAAs.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the program turnaround – with still a whole day remaining in competition, ASU has already surpassed last year’s point total.

“So we’re moving up,” Bowman laughs.