2017 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships: Jennifer Buffin creating a new culture at Oregon State
Federal Way, Wash. – It’s a long way from Hawaii to Corvallis, but Jennifer Buffin took the leap of faith this past fall, heading to Oregon State to accept the head coaching job in women’s swimming.
After spending the last ten years at the University of Hawaii as associate head coach, Buffin thought she’d transition into the head coaching role. But then the Beavers came knocking.
“I had applied for that job at Hawaii, but then there were some other jobs that opened up and people who were calling me, so that kind of opened my eyes back up to coming back to the mainland and pursuing opportunities here.”
Her journey brought her to Corvallis, a place she’s been thinking of for a while.
“Oregon State has been on my radar for quite some time. It’s a program I’ve been watching, and when I was looking at what opportunities were available for me, I felt like this would be a good fit. It’s a program that is gonna be rebuilt.”
Rebuilding is a common theme when talking with Buffin, and it was a huge reason that she came to OSU. The Beavers finished last at the 2016 Pac-12 Swimming (W) & Diving (M/W) Championships, a whole 181.5 points behind the next team (Arizona State).
Those days are something that Buffin wants to put in the past by putting more of an emphasis on the entire team, not just one or two stars.
“They’ve done really well in the past as far as having one or two All-Americans, but their depth really lacked, and so that’s something where I felt like I could come in, bring a new energy to the program, and really work recruiting.”
For Buffin and the Beavs, that doesn’t just mean reaching out to top recruits across the country, but starting right there in their own backyard.
“Why not find those kids in that area who are good enough to be in the Pac-12 and at least go after them, at least try and draw them in. Yeah, maybe the top couple recruits will go to Cal and Stanford…but to not be in that sleepy position.
A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, Oregon State has a team?’” She laughs. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re in the Pac-12!’ So I think that’s part of the rebuilding process – going out and going into the community and talking to them.”
And Buffin believes that the Beavers could have an advantage over some of the bigger schools in the country.
“There’s very few college towns left. Most of them are in big cities…so I think that is a very attractive thing for us to promote. And it’s something that’s unique.”
For this week at the Pac-12 Champs, she’s hoping that the stiff competition from around the conference will help the Beavs grow.
“You’re in one of the best conferences in the country, that develops the most Olympians…And using that to our advantage. They’re gonna help us to get better, so I think the team really bought into that.”
They’re already seeing some results of that new mentality. Felicia Anderson, Allie Kilroy, Andrea Young, and Sophie MacEwan combined to break the school record in the 200 medley relay on Wednesday night.