Pablo Marmolejo: Experience is everything

Courtesy of Sarah Boekholder/University of Delaware Athletics
Coach Marmolejo was named Women’s CAA Coach of the Year.

Associate Sports Editor

In only his second year as head swim coach for the Delaware Swimming and Diving team, Pablo Marmolejo has made a name for himself around the collegiate swimming community. He was named the 2020 Colonial Athletic Association Womens’ Coach of the Year.

Swimming has played a huge role in his life up to this point and it started with the people around him. Growing up Marmolejo’s family was full of swimmers. His mother, father and sister were all swimmers. His father and sister have also taken up positions of swim coaches.

For Marmolejo, he sees swimming as something that has been with him since he was a young child.

“I just feel like [swimming] has been a part of my life since birth,” Marmolejo said. “This is everything that I know.”

At first, Marmolejo thought he would only want to stay in the pool competing and not be on the pool deck coaching athletes. Being around his father showed him what a swim coach has to go through and all troubles they endure along the way.

However, once Marmolejo was recruited to swim at West Virginia University, the way he thought about the sport changed for him. During his time in college, Marmolejo earned NCAA All-American honors in 2006 and 2007 and also served as captain for the Mexican National team.

“All the experiences that you learn through the sport are what help you through life,” Marmolejo said. “I think with my life experience on both sides as a coach and a swimmer I can relate to the [athletes] in a much better way.”

Marmolejo is in his second season serving as head coach, but it is not his first time being on the staff at Delaware. Marmolejo served as an assistant coach from 2012 to 2015 and found adjusting to Delaware to be challenging at first.

Marmolejo had came from a Power Five conference school that had a large amount of resources. He was also in a position similar to that of a graduate assistant. Marmolejo worked 40 to 45 hours a week without getting much pay.
In spite of this, Marmolejo still learned a lot from his peers including former Delaware Head Coach John Hayman.

“He was incredibly helpful and really helped me dive into more things instead of not giving me a lot to do,” Marmolejo said. “I really got a lot of experience under him.”

In his second year, Marmolejo got the full-time role of assistant coach and was introduced to the technical aspect of being a coach. He dealt with recruiting and more of the fine print details that may not come to mind when a person thinks of an assistant coach.

“That was challenging in and of itself, just trying to learn the ins and outs of the university and the NCAA,” Marmolejo said.

For those next two seasons, Marmolejo developed a strong idea of what it would take for the team to be successful among other mid-major schools around the nation.

When Marmolejo rejoined the team as the new head coach in 2018, he encountered new challenges along the way. He saw the differences between his former role of assistant coach and new role as head coach.

As an assistant, Marmolejo found people coming to him with problems. He found himself in the position of being the, “good cop.” Now as a head coach, Marmolejo knew that decisions would fall on his shoulders.

Even with the amount of weight that falls on him to make decisions, Marmolejo has found that his past experience can benefit his staff around him and positively impact the team as a whole.

“Knowing what it takes to do the job of the assistant, I think it helps me help my staff better,” Marmolejo said. “It helps them grow into the position and then helps them help the kids as well.”

With Marmolejo at the helm, the swim team has had a steady rise in success. Both the Men’s and Women’s teams took home fifth place at the 2020 CAA Championships with multiple athletes taking home medals, including senior Kevin Basch and freshman Mira Selling.

Marmolejo is optimistic and likes where his team is right now. With the continued support of the athletic department, Marmolejo believes that the team cannot only be a successful program in terms of winning, but also in terms of giving his athletes the best experience.

“What we do for [the athletes], they actually receive that support and those services and those experiences,” Marmolejo said. “I think that is hard to find.”

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