Tim Queen knows how to win.
From his college days at Western Carolina, to his coaching and teaching days at Shelby High, to this most recent stint doing the same at North Mecklenburg High, Queen has proven to consistently be a good swimming coach as he has guided his various teams to six state championships in 23 years.
Now, Queen, 47, is looking to do the same thing at Hough High, as he changes lanes from the Vikings to the Huskies, something that wasn't easy for him to do.
"It was very difficult for me to leave North and all the great kids I have coached and teached there," said Queen, who was at North Meck for the last five years. "But, the opportunity for my career and to start a new program was too good for me to pass up."
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Queen, who led North Meck to five straight conference titles in both boys' and girls' swimming, is looking to have similar success at Hough, but he knows it might not come so easily.
Queen leaves behind a Viking program that was one of the top programs in the state, as the boys' team finished second in the state last year and girls' finished ninth in 2009. North Meck has also won 25 straight conference titles.
Queen's new challenge is to prove he can develop the same kind of success at Hough.
"The foundation for success is here," said Queen. "If we can stay healthy, I believe we can be a top 5 team (in the state) year in and year out, eventually."
Hough's chief competition early on will come from its own conference, the I-Meck, as the Huskies will have a brutal slate that includes Lake Norman, North Meck and Hopewell, who have all established themselves as state contenders on a regular basis.
But the task of beating some of these teams might get a little easier because Hough has drawn some of the talent from both North Meck and Hopewell.
"I guess some people would say we have 'robbed' those programs of some of their talent," said Queen. "But they are still strong programs and that is what we want to be. We want to be competitive from day one."
Queen expects a solid year. His boys' team will be led early on by Lake Norman Charter transfer Peter Brumm, who is a nationally-ranked swimmer in the freestyle and who also excels at the butterfly. Sophomore Jack Manchester should also be a standout for the Huskies.
On the girls side, Queen has one of best swimmers from a year ago at North in Payton Schrum, who specializes in freestyle and breaststroke. Former Hopewell star Allie Kitchens (backstroke) will also be a welcomed addition with freshman Heather Merritt (freestyle, backstroke, butterfly) also looking like a standout early because of her versatility.
"We have a lot of talent on this team already," said Queen. "But we still have to come together as a team and a school and find our identity."
While Queen says he expects Lake Norman to be the early favorite in conference this year, it should be a battle between the Wildcats, Huskies, Vikings and Titans for a long time to come.
Queen isn't looking forward to swimming against North Meck.
"I have so many students, friends and memories in that team that it will be hard," he said. "It will an emotional thing for me, at least this year."
But while the decision to leave North was tough, Queen is eager about starting anew at Hough.
"I am very excited about being here at Hough and starting new traditions and a whole new program," Queen said, whose team started practice last week. "We are ready to get everything going. I already feel the pressure, because the expectations from my swimmers are high."