Saint Mary’s Athletic Department has hired Roy Pillers as the new assistant coach for swimming and diving, according to head coach Amber Bartholomew.
This is Pillers’ first time as an assistant coach, but it is not his first time to the sport of swimming. Pillers, a 22-year-old from Rochester, MN., graduated from the University of St. Thomas in May of 2015 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. A member of the swim team all four years of his college career, Pillers said that his favorite part about the program was, “the family aspect and that I got to compete with a bunch of people who all got along so well.”
While on the swim team, Pillers excelled at the 200- and 100-yard breaststroke, and the 200- and 400-yard individual medley. Pillers said that his greatest achievement while at St. Thomas was graduating with a 3.98 cumulative GPA. Unfortunately, his athletic senior year was cut short because of an injury. “I tore my ACL and both meniscuses in my right knee about a month before my senior year started while playing ultimate Frisbee,” Pillers said.
Pillers was determined to make the most of his year, though. “It was a six-hour-long surgery and after a long recovery, I was cleared to swim competitively a week after my season ended,” Pillers said. However, Pillers prides himself on his fast recovery of only five months. Another swimmer on his team tore only his ACL and took roughly six months to recover.
Pillers said he only swam in four or five meets that season, compared to the 11 or so meets that usually made up the season and he practiced when he could. At the end of the recovery process, Pillers ended up being only three seconds slower than his all-time personal best time, which he determined was, “very impressive given the circumstances.”
Roy Pillers, new assistant swimming and diving coach
Photo by Grace Van Beest
Pillers is happy that he is able to continue with the sport of swimming, especially because it has been a part of his life for so many years. “My goals for this season are to see the team become a little more competitive than it has been in the past and to work on technique with a lot of the newer swimmers. Also to help the team grow as a family while also being a competitive unit, more than it already is now.
“I don’t think my former team will mind too much, we’re keeping it in the MIAC,” Pillers said about the reaction his former swim team will have when they hear the news that he is coaching for a rival school. Pillers experienced something very similar during his junior year, when St. Thomas hired a new assistant coach who had just graduated and was a member of the swim team from St. Olaf, their biggest rival school. Pillers said that some lighthearted jabs were given, but for the most part, it wasn’t that big of a deal. “It’s going to be a good year,” said Pillers.