Four years ago, Queens had no swim team. This month, the team competed in conference championships and most recently the national championships. Queens broke their first record at the Bluegrass Conference Championship with women finishing third and men second overall.
Queens had 14 swimmers qualify and compete in the NCAA Division II National Championship in Birmingham, Ala. On the first day, they set five school records and finished the evening with three top five finishes. They rounded out the championships with men finishing ninth, women tenth and breaking 14 records overall. Two standout performances included freshman Caroline Arakelien and sophomore Alex Menke who both went home with national titles and broke their own school record.
Over the last four years, Coach Jeff Dugdale has recruited both men and women who would share his vision both in and out of the pool. "I'm building leaders for life that embrace the Queens culture which they then use as a platform to perform at the highest level both academically and athletically...Too many times kids think of silos - 'I can only be good in one or the other' - and that's not life."
While the womens' team is successful-and growing more and more so-the men's team is a year ahead of Coach Dugdale's plan, as he was able to recruit seniors Austin Hughey and Kyle House away from other schools to help build the program from the ground up.
Austin transferred to Queens from Auburn University (Auburn, Ala. is also his hometown) and became a business administration major. "It's such a unique and rewarding opportunity to shape a new program."
Kyle, of Lawrenceburg, Ind., joined the team because he "wanted to be part of a program that would strive for an unprecedented level of excellence both in the pool and in the classroom." He said he couldn't pass up the opportunity "to set traditions and build a foundation."
The foundation has emphasized tight cohesion, Austin said. "Our team has only been around for a short three years, but even in that short amount of time the we've grown very close."
For more highlights from the conference and national championships, visit www.queensathletics.edu.