“You can paint a picture and talk about what good may look like, but there is nothing comparable to seeing and feeling what good looks like,” said Jeffrey Dugdale, head swim coach.
This past Friday, there was too much “good” to go around. Queens hosted a Royal’s Invite meet against Auburn University. Not only did both teams compete and put on a show for the packed bleachers, Olympic athletes on Team Elite, like Ryan Lochte, also made an appearance.
Dugdale, and assistant coach Peter Verhoef shared their plans and future expectations for the swim team, how they got to where they are today and the relationship between them and Team Elite with The Queens Chronicle.
It started in 2009, when both coaches were asked to be consultants to President Pamela Davies and Athletic Director Jeannie King. They wanted to explore the idea of starting a new program at Queens to help enrich enrollment.
“Throughout the whole process of getting to know the University, we started to fall in love with it. Queens is a neat little hidden gem,” said Dugdale.
Soon, Dugdale and Verhoef were on board and the next step was to begin the recruiting process and formalize the partnership between the Queens coaches and coach David Marsh.
Marsh works with Team Elite and is the current CEO and director of coaching at SwimMAC Carolina.
“David and I were looking for an infrastructure for team elite after the 2008 Olympics,”said Dugdale. We wanted to provide them with a new home, so they did not have to train out of many different pools.”
“In 2012 there was a week that Team Elite trained in 5 different pools and 3 different weight rooms,”added Verhoef. “”We were constantly bouncing around trying to find a solid home for the team to train in.”
Marsh and Dugdale started to assist in the drawings and sketches of the Levine Center for Recreation and Wellness and made a point to incorporate things that would benefit the University and Team Elite.
“We wanted to put Queens on the map, not just locally, not just regionally, but nationally and globally as well,” said Dugdale.
This partnership between Queens and Team Elite has created positive exposure for both the University and swim team.
“What makes Queens different in partnering with team elite is that our focus is not only on the conference and NCAA but on international Olympic level swimming,” said Dugdale.
It allows the recruiting process to reach a completely new level. The swim coaches can target and recruit the best of the best and have the resources to prove it. Not only do Queens students have a new state of the art facility, dedicated coaches with great experience and connections, they get the chance to swim alongside and learn from Olympic athletes and coaches, he added.
“In the recruiting process we are able to say “we know how to win” there are only a handful of schools out there that can say that. Everyone else wants to win, but we know how to.”
Dugdale explained that many times Olympic athletes leave the Olympic games with the glory of their medal, but because of all the time and effort they put into training, they aren’t always able to get real world work experience.
Between the city of Charlotte and the University, students have endless opportunities and connections to help them succeed, including Queens internship program.
“We want to use Charlotte as an excellent training ground that can also give our athletes experience in the workplace around their training schedule and launch them into careers after their Olympic glory,” said Dugdale.
These coaches are working together to provide these athletes with the education and the support team to allow them to reach their full potential.
“It is limitless to what we can do, we have removed the ceiling to what we can bring to Charlotte,” said Dugdale.