The swimming coach who has turned Cabrini into a D-III blue blood

By Chris Schaller
April 19, 2022

Ikeler story
Coach Cindy Ikeler at a swim meet Photo Cabrini Athletics

Cabrini Swimming for the past couple of years always finishes around the top of the conference; largely in part due to head coach, Cindy Ikeler’s tactics and coaching.

Recently, Ikeler was interviewed by Matt Leon of KYW News Radio, and discussed Ikeler’s résumé at Cabrini and how the sport of swimming has evolved as a whole.

Since taking over in 2012, Ikeler has overseen the Cavaliers go from being at the bottom of the conference and yearly under .500 to being at the top of the conference and consistently winning individual events since 2018. The men’s team has won four conference tournaments in a row and the women’s winning back to back conference titles from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020.

“When I first came here we were in disarray and the first thing I needed to do was to build a roster,” Ikeler said. “Once I had the swimmers set in place we were able to go from there, and over time as I learned more we became a very good swim program.”

Ikeler first oversaw the program in an unorganized state of disarray. Cabrini had not reached a record over .500 until Ikeler’s third year as the women’s coach and fourth year as the men’s coach.

“I’ve fully underseen a rebuild of the program during my time hear, we have came a long way,” Ikeler said.

Cabrini’s conference championship banners hanging in the Dixon Center Pool.
Photo: Chris Schaller

With the season being long and arduous, Ikeler must find ways to keep her swimmers engaged throughout the course of the season. “Cindy is the type of coach who makes sure we are having fun while working hard, which is how she keeps us engaged throughout our somewhat longer season,” Sarah Gudas, junior swimmer, said.

Under Ikeler several swimmers have reached milestones and have broken records in several different strokes. All 20 of Cabrini’s women’s SCY records were under Ikeler with 19 out of the 20 being men’s records.

“What makes Coach Ikeler so great is that she makes sure to work with each and every one of us on our events and goes over how to prepare for them in practice, which is hard since there’s so many of us and it not being a group sport,” Andrew Hickey, junior swimmer, said.

Each meet will have several different individual events and then eventually a team relay at some point throughout the match. Swim coaches are not able to make “mid-game adjustments” like a basketball or soccer coach would, so the time that the coach has with a swimmer during practice and before the meets are crucial for both the coach and the swimmer.

“I enjoy the individualism that comes with swimming, it puts an emphasis on the swimmers’ work and dedication that they put into each event, and my job is to maximize each swimmer’s strength to the best of their abilities,” Ikeler said.

The KYW radio podcast that Ikeler was a guest on, put a spotlight on the star-studded swimming program that Ikeler has put together at Cabrini.

Swimming doesn’t get the same attention and coverage as would the more popular sports: lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball etc. With that being said, many people do not know that Cabrini has been arguably the most dominant swimming program in the AEC since 2018. For a university that has such a successful sports department, Ikeler is getting the respect of people outside of the sport of swimming.


Chris Schaller

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