Brandy Collins, who was instrumental in helping LSU swimming reach new heights in 2010-11, begins her second season as an assistant coach with the men’s and women’s programs.
Collins made an immediate impact to the breaststroke and individual medley ranks where she trained three NCAA competitors — including an All-American — and two SEC All-Freshmen Team performers. The athletes in her group also shattered three individual program records, posted 14 NCAA provisional qualifying marks and recorded 18 program top-10 times.
Under Collins’ direction, freshmen Torrey Bussey and Cari Blalock developed into two of the top freshman swimmers in the SEC.
Bussey, an NCAA qualifier and member of the SEC All-Freshmen Team, broke program records in the 200 breast (2:11.72) and 200 IM (1:58.23) and registered the program’s second-fastest time ever in the 100 breast (1:01.31).
A native of Cary, N.C., Bussey became the first LSU women’s swimmer to advance to the championship final of the 200 IM at SEC’s since 1999 and placed higher than any other Lady Tiger in that event at NCAA’s in the past 14 seasons. She was also the first Lady Tiger swimmer since 2003 to compete in the 200 breast at NCAA’s and reach the ‘A’ final of the race at SEC’s.
Cari Blalock, a fellow NCAA qualifier and SEC All-Freshmen Team performer, took down a 14-year-old school record in the 400 IM, played a role on the Lady Tigers’ record-breaking 800 freestyle relay and posted the second- and third-fastest times in program annals in the 200 fly and 200 IM, respectively. Her fourth-place finish in the 200 fly at SEC’s was the highest freshman finish in the league, while she notched the third-fastest time among freshmen in the event at NCAA’s.
Senior Kannon Betzen earned honorable mention All-America honors as a member of the Lady Tigers’ 200 freestyle relay, competed individually at NCAA’s for the first time in her career this past season and was a member of LSU’s record-breaking 200 and 800 free relays. Meanwhile, teammates Sally Wood, Jessica Kopcso, Emily Schwabe, Kaelee Mader and Jana Ruimerman swam to program top-10 times in breaststroke or individual medley races.
In addition, Collins’ expertise aided in the breaststroke training for senior Jane Trepp, who won an SEC championship, broke a conference record (58.94) and garnered first-team All-America honors in the 100 breast last season.
On the men’s side, sophomore Sean Roddy was the most improved swimmer on the team with Collins’ guidance.
A product of Towson, Md., Roddy dropped more than two full seconds in the 100 breast (54.16) from his freshman season to advance to the championship final at SEC’s, while also scoring in the 200 breast and delivering program top-10 times in his three best events.
Senior Clint Hallum also made key contributions to the team at SEC’s and throughout the dual-meet season, racing to program top-10 times in the 200 free, 200 IM and 400 IM and providing a top-16 SEC finish in the 400 IM.
Collins, the captain of the University of Arizona’s first and only NCAA championship team in 2008, came to Baton Rouge after serving as a graduate assistant coach for her alma mater and the Silver Group head coach at Ford Aquatics in Tucson, Ariz.
In 2009-10, Collins worked with the breaststroke and individual medley groups and assisted former Arizona assistant and new Missouri head coach Greg Rhodenbaugh, who coached Annie Chandler to the NCAA title and a new NCAA record in the 100 breast as well as NCAA champions Cory Chitwood (200 backstroke) and Clark Burckle (200 breast).
During her tenure as Silver Group head coach at Ford Aquatics, Collins oversaw the day-to-day operations of the group as well as the training and development of more than 50 swimmers from ages 9-14, while also serving as the head coach of Tucson Tri-Women, playing an integral role in their training for the swimming aspect of their triathlons.
As a student-athlete, Collins was a member of three Pacific-10 championship teams at Arizona in addition to its 2008 NCAA championship team as a sprint butterfly and freestyle performer. She was also an Olympic Trials and NCAA qualifier and was once ranked in the top 20 in the world in the 50-meter fly with a time of 26.7.
A Pac-10 Post-graduate scholarship recipient in 2008, Collins graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and is currently pursuing a master’s in Sport Management.
Collins, 25, is engaged to Philip Maben, the former Assistant Director of Aquatics at Arizona and a current member of the LSU swimming and diving support staff.
The Brandy Collins File
Born: December 4, 1985, in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.
College: University of Arizona; B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2008