|FRESNO, California, May 3. FRESNO Pacific has announced the selection of Josh Christensen as the new head coach of its men's and women's swimming & diving programs.
Christensen comes to FPU from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix where he's spent the last two seasons as the head assistant and recruiting coordinator for one of the top swimming programs in NCAA Division II.
"Josh is a proven winner," said Director of Athletics Dennis Janzen. "The fact that, in just five short years, FPU swimming is associated with national championships is remarkable, and Josh understands that. His vision, work ethic, and enthusiasm for building FPU swimming into a premier program at the NCAA level is exciting. His passion and commitment for the total student-athlete experience is even more impressive. He will make the FPU swim program even better."
Under Christensen, the GCU men's team, which had finished 16th the year before he arrived, has put together two consecutive NCAA top-five finishes and was ranked #1 in the nation in January 2011. He took the women's team from a 31st-place finish at NCAA nationals two years ago to a 5th-place finish this season.
"I couldn't be more excited about being part of Fresno Pacific University," said Christensen. "Everyone I have met has been incredibly helpful, kind and professional. FPU has a tremendous vision and mission, and I look forward to working in an environment that encourages students to pursue their God-given talents with all they have."
Christensen, whose entire swimming and coaching career has been at the Division II level, will look to keep the Sunbirds at a championship-level during the two-year transition to full membership in NCAA Division II.
In just five years as a program, FPU developed into the premier swimming program at the NAIA level, winning three national titles in the last three years. The Sunbirds captured the 2012 women's national title and were runner-ups on the men's side in what was their final NAIA season.
"This athletic department has a championship tradition in the NAIA and over the past five years the Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving teams have played a huge part in that," said Christensen. "The move to the NCAA provides a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow. I look forward to helping each student-athlete take their swimming to the next level, as we pursue excellence as a team."
Originally from Mesa, Ariz., Christensen swam at NCAA Division II Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas as a student-athlete before joining the OBU coaching staff during his junior year of college.
He was an assistant coach from 2007-2010 and during that span the men's team never finished lower than fifth and the women's team never lower than 10th at the NCAA Division II national championships. While in college he married his wife Jenny, an NCAA All-American swimmer at OBU who was part of an NCAA-record setting relay team.
Since returning to his hometown to take the position at GCU, Christensen has established himself as a proven recruiter with a knack for finding talent and building recruiting connections throughout the West Coast. He has put together top recruiting classes in each season as the recruiting coordinator at GCU, including this year's incoming class which included the top high school swimmer in the state of New Mexico.
Swimmers under him have won eight individual NCAA titles, three relay titles and set three NCAA national records. In each of the last two seasons, GCU has also received the CSCAA Scholar All-American team award. Last summer he coached Team Canyon of USA Swimming Club at the USA Swimming National Championships hosted by Stanford with one of his athletes qualifying for the Olympic Trials in two different events.
Christensen's coaching philosophy is not only centered around highly-competitive swimming, but also stresses the importance of a family atmosphere and a genuine care for each student-athlete. He will look to build upon the things that made FPU Swimming great under previous coach Peter Richardson, who started the program in 2007 and was hired in March as the head coach at his alma mater, University of the Pacific.
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