Last year Queens only sent two swimmers to NCAA Division II nationals. This year 10 swimmers will compete in the nationals March 14 in Mansfield, Texas, outside of Dallas.
That’s the latest sign of the swim team’s marked improvement after the 2010-2011 inaugural season.
The swim program has reached top six in its Bluegrass Mountain Conference in only its second season in existence. Unlike most Queens sports that participate in Conference Carolinas, swimming competes in the BMC. This conference consists of a variety of schools around the East Coast from Divisions II and III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as well as schools from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“We couldn’t be happier,” said head coach Jeff Dugdale. Noting the support Queens has given the team during its first two seasons, he added, “The best way to give them a thank you is by going to nationals.”
Last year, the men were ranked seventh in the conference, while the women were ranked 12th, said Kyle House, one of the 10 swimmers who qualified for nationals. He is an academic senior who transferred from Purdue after his sophomore year.
According to Dugdale, Queens has recently broken all records except two for swimming.
The team has been successful in recruiting even though it doesn’t have an official pool yet. Without a gym or pool, Dugdale has recruited by giving swimmers a vision of what the Queens program will become. “They wanted to be part of the future,” he said.
“We’re a unique program for a Division II school to offer,” added House. “Our talent is growing.”
With the new Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation construction already underway, the swim team is anticipating a NCAA competitive pool in the new gym. “Jeff worked hand and hand with construction,” said House. “He was right there with all the builders.”