From simply observing the banner in the West Gym, one can see that Marian Swimming and Diving has a long-standing tradition of excellence. They’ve captured 13 state championships and seven state runner-up titles. While striving for greatness will always be consistent in Marian Swimming and Diving, one thing has changed for this upcoming season. Marian’s swimming head coach, Mr. BJ Christiansen, now teaches at Marian. This is Christiansen’s second year being the head coach of Marian swimming but his first year teaching at Marian.
Christiansen, originally from Omaha, attended Burke High School, where he swam as a student all four years. He has graduated from the University of Wyoming and the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is currently in graduate school at the College of St. Mary. At Marian, he teaches physical education and oversees study halls. “Everyone at Marian is very disciplined, but at the same time everyone enjoys being here. The atmosphere and culture here is very cool,” Christiansen said.
Christiansen has met with many of the returning, and also the new, swimmers, two of
which being returning sophomore Erin Smith, and returning senior Naeleah Hadford.
“I like that he [Christiansen] always tells us before every invite/dual to have fun, because that is truly what it’s about,” Smith said. “And I like how he always has a way to make me come out of my shell in swimming and push myself in ways I’d never be able to,” Smith said. Hadford shares a similar opinion to her teammate. “He [Christiansen] is willing to listen to each girl and understand what will be best for her,” Hadford said.
Christiansen centers his teaching philosophy on the idea of complete preparedness. “I believe it is important to prepare an athlete in all aspects,” Christiansen said. “This can include physical training, mental training, nutrition, social, etc. A swimmer will compete at their best when they feel most prepared and when there will be no doubt that they can do their best.”
Like any coach, Christiansen has set high goals for the team this season. “We hope to improve on how we did last season, win our invites, win our duals, take Metros, and place as high as we can at State. And a goal we had from last year and are going to carry over to this year is for every girl to attain a state qualifying time. We almost met it last year, and we’re hoping this year we will!” Christiansen said.
Leading up to the start of the swimming season, there have been Friday morning workouts in the gym, which consist of basic conditioning and swimmer-specific exercises. “They [workout sessions] were nice because I got to meet the incoming freshmen ahead of time and get a feel of what this season will be like,” Smith said.
No matter how much changes in Marian’s Swimming and Diving program, the tradition of excellence will live on.