On March 12, Queens captured back-to-back NCAA Division II swimming championships on both the men’s and women’s sides. The Chronicle interviewed swimming head coach Jeff Dugdale to learn more about the success of Queens swimming.
Coach Dugdale recalled the performance of the two teams at the title competition. While the women did as expected as a deep team, the men “created their own identity” by winning convincingly with only three returning scorers.
Winning their second consecutive title was no easy task, though. According to Dugdale, the pressure was pretty tough as “you have a target on your back.” Coach Dugdale remembers Queens being a popular team to cheer for during their first title run, but that changed coming to the competition as defending champions. Jeff Dugdale found that this year there were, “more people rooting against [Queens] than for [Queens].”
Dugdale expects the success of the past two years to continue as Queens prepares for next season with the expectations of winning a third consecutive title. He said that their goal year after year is to compete for titles.
When asked what goes into such success, Dugdale said that it was a culture that embraces hardwork, a lot of technique, and the want to deliver results. Living up to the Queens motto, Dugdale said the team has a mindset of wanting to serve others and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Dugdale was quick to mention that this goes beyond swimming, saying that the want to practice harder and deliver results is going to make a difference in the future of these student-athletes, like at the interview table, for example.
While all of the swimmers got two weeks off, their break from training didn’t last long. Queens has a waiver from the NCAA to continue conditioning and then training after only a few weeks of rest because it is an Olympic trial year. In fact, at least one of Queens’ swimmers has already made the Olympics at the time of writing: Dion Dreesens for the Netherlands.
When asked if Queens was a more attractive place than some Division I programs for potential swim recruits, Jeff Dugdale said that Queens is, “definitely becoming a destination.” He believes that Queens is even a more appealing destination than some of the top Division I programs. In fact, Dugdale is confident Queens would be able to be very competitive in Division I, citing that Dreseens would have been about fifth in the DI 200-freestyle competition. He said it’s their goal to be competitive like that.
Coach Jeff Dugdale also wanted to tell the Chronicle that Queens swimming’s success this season wasn’t just limited to within the water. He was proud to announce that one of his swimmers, Alex Marshall, had just beaten cancer, recently undergoing her last session of chemotherapy. Dugdale said that it reminded him and his team that “swimming everyday for titles is a privilege” rather than a right.
It “helped us all become bigger and better this year,” he said.