Queens’ swimming program swept the men’s and women’s team titles at the NCAA Division II national championships this past weekend in Indianapolis. The Royals unseated swimming dynasty Drury, of Springfield, Mo., which had won the men’s championships for 10 consecutive years and the women’s title six of the past eight years.
The Royals’ swim program is only 5 years old. It wasn’t until the opening of the Levine Center in August 2013 that Queens had its own pool to practice in. Swimmers previously practiced at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, often early in the morning.
“I always thought two (titles) was possible,” said Queens coach Jeff Dugdale, who was named the Division II men’s and women’s coach of the year. “The men, on paper, were good, but it would be a much bigger battle because of depth. But our women, they were good and deep this year.”
Here are seven things to know about the Queens swimming program:
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1. It was the first national championship in any sport for Queens, founded in 1857 as a women’s-only college, which became a fully co-educational school 28 years ago.
2. Since Dugdale took over as coach in 2010, Queens’ swim program has climbed up the team standings each year – for the men, from 11th in 2012, ninth in 2013 and fourth in 2014; the women, 21st in 2012, 10th in 2013 and third in 2014
3. At this year’s nationals, Queens’ swimmers won 17 events – 10 by the men, seven by the women – more than double the number of individual and relay titles the Royals won at the 2014 nationals (eight – five men’s and three women’s).
4. Queens’ swimmers set 12 Division II records at the nationals – six of those coming from freshman Patricia Castro-Ortega, and five by sophomore Matthew Josa.
5. Josa, a Charlotte native, was named the nationals’ most outstanding men’s swimmer for the second straight year, and Castro-Ortega – a native of Madrid – was named the women’s most outstanding swimmer. Freshman Nick Arakelian also won four individual events.
“It’s starting to sink in a little bit,” Josa said. “All year, we knew we had a really good chance. It all depended on how things lined up during the meet. Everyone was very excited the whole meet, and that attitude was why we won.”
6. Queens’ secret weapon is David Marsh, CEO and director of coaching at SwimMAC Carolina since 2007, who also is a consultant with the Royals’ program. Marsh won 12 NCAA championships at Auburn and has coached Olympic gold medalists such as Cullen Jones and Ryan Lochte.
7. Dugdale is a Marsh protégé – he swam at Auburn for three years before becoming an assistant coach there in 1992 and worked with Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina before taking the Queens job.