Leonard Kraus now enters his seventh season as the Head Coach of the Marshall University swimming and diving program. Kraus has overseen the growth of the swimming and diving program and is looking to continue the progress he has made since becoming the team's first ever head coach in 2002.
Building A Competitive Program
Despite a choppy dual-meet season and a disappointing 4-7 record, Kraus once again had his squad ready to perform at the Conference USA Championships as the Herd's Michaela Sceli became the second Herd swimmer to claim a C-USA title and the team recorded a program-best fifth-place finish. To top it off, sophomore transfer Jenny Johnsson was named the C-USA Newcomer of the Year and Sceli went on to compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials where she was a finalist.
Marshall once again had several athletes set new individual bests, as five records fell, including the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, the 200-yard backstroke, the one-meter dive and the platform dive.
Kraus has produced a 37-44 record in his first six seasons and a two-time NCAA participant in former Herd swimmer Milla Kuurto.
On Oct. 8, 2001, the first steps were taken in bringing a swimming and diving program back to Marshall with the hiring of Kraus. In the Herd's inaugural season, Kraus led the Herd to a victory over Youngstown State in its first-ever meet and finished with a 5-9 overall record that season.
In his second season of competition, Kraus led the Herd to a 7-9 overall record and a 1-7 record in the Mid-American Conference. The Herd defeated Eastern Michigan to capture its first conference win as a member of the Mid-American Conference. Kraus produced a three-time First Team All-MAC honoree and the 2004 MAC Swimmer of the Year in Kuurto and a three-time All-MAC selection with Erika Nilsson. Kuurto was named to the Academic All-MAC team in 2004 along with Nilsson who also won the honor in 2003. Kraus' athletes have traditionally done well in the classroom, with 14 swimmers earning Academic All-MAC accolades in addition to a total of 19 semesters worth of Academic All-America selections. In 2006, Kraus' squad earned the C-USA Sport Academic Award with a 3.395 cumulative team grade point average, and took the honor for a second straight year in 2007.
The Herd, which finished its inaugural season in Conference USA with a 6-8 record, began its schedule with a quick 5-1 start. Marshall had a strong showing at the Conference USA Championships, including Kuurto capturing Marshall's first individual title in the 200-yard butterfly finals.
Not only was the Herd faced with joining a brand new conference, it also had to compete in 12 of its 14 meets away from Huntington - the fewest home meets since the program's inauguration in 2001.
Marshall accomplished a tremendous milestone for a young program as it honored its first four-year senior class at the end of the 2005-06 season - Britney Brooks, Milla Kuurto, Emily Moe and Casey Mulholland.
Kraus took the program to even greater heights in 2006-07. The Herd, opened up to a 4-0 start that season before finishing with a record of 5-6. Despite the slow finish Marshall managed its best-ever performance at the Conference USA Championships as the Herd blew away its team total of 249 points from 2006, recording a record 381.5.
Prior to Marshall
Before arriving in Huntington, Kraus spent three years at the University of Toledo. While with the Rockets, he was the recruiting coordinator and assisted with both pool and dry land workouts. He coached 36 top-three Rocket finishers at the MAC Championships, 16 of which were first place and 21 school records were broken under his watch (four men's records, 17 women's records). He helped orchestrate a dramatic rise in the overall finishes of his women's team from last in the conference to fourth place over a three-year span.
Toledo's swimmers learned to appreciate success under Kraus, as evident by a women's three-year record of 26-14 and 31-6 for the men. Two Rockets were NCAA qualifiers, while 14 qualified for their respective country's Olympic trials. Fourteen athletes earned All-MAC honors during his tenure.
Before his arrival at Toledo, Kraus was a prominent member of the Muncie, Ind., swimming community. He was an assistant at Ball State for three years before taking over the Muncie Central High School teams as well as coaching Cardinal Community Swim Club for five years. Ball State went 24-13 in Kraus' three seasons with eight All-MAC honors and one NCAA All-American. Cardinal Community Swim Club team produced four U.S.S. All-Americans, two Olympic trial qualifiers and the most swimmers to ever qualify for junior national and nationals in team history. While at Central High, his men's team (11-0) won the sectional and conference title, placing 10th at the Indiana State Championships, while his women's team (9-2) placed second at sectionals and 26th at the state meet, producing three High School All-Americans. Personal
Kraus is a member of the American Swim Coaches Association (Level 4) and the United States Swimming Coaches Association. His coaching philosophy is rooted in recruiting quality people, not just quality athletes.
Kraus received his bachelor's degree in sports administration from Ball State in 1994, where he spent four years as a member of the Cardinals' varsity swimming team and three years on the water polo team.
His brother, Phil Kraus, is the head coach of the Greater Pensacola Swim Club. He is married to the former Joy Gallagher, a former Ball State swimmer who still holds several Cardinal and MAC records. They have two children, Alena Irene (9) and Makayla Lynn (7). The family resides in Huntington.