By: John Geissinger
Assistant Swimming Coach
As of my current estimate there are 205 combined swimming programs in Division III, with only five teams retaining separate head coaches. This trend exists at both the Division III and Division I level. This fall, we enter a new era of Washington & Lee Swimming, as the University officially combines the program under Head Coach Kami Gardner. Coach Gardner led both teams last year from November onward, guiding the women to a fifth consecutive ODAC Championship and the men to a 16th-place finish at the NCAA championships. The excitement that both teams exhibited at having combined practices last year was surely a sign of good things to come. But even with the excitement, nobody could predict that it was to become one of the more successful seasons for both programs in recent memory.
When we announced that we were going to move forward as a combined program long-term, the excitement that the men’s team showed was astonishing. Fist pumps and exuberance were witnessed throughout the team– and it didn’t stop there! This fall I have seen the men’s and women’s captains working together to foster an environment of inclusiveness and community between the two merging teams. This is a great step forward for our program and for the University.
With a strong group of incoming freshman and an experienced collection of upperclassmen, I am confident this positive trend will continue. With a combined NCAA championship meet at the Division III level, our combined program makes more sense now than ever. Kami, Greg, and I are confident this season will be one for the record books.