GRANTHAM, Pennsylvania, February 7. WITH its inaugural men's and women's swimming season starting this coming fall, the Messiah College athletic department announced Tuesday that current Lawrence University (NCAA Division III, Appleton, Wisc.) interim head coach Dan Lloyd will guide and direct its program, concluding a national search in the process.
Lloyd, who has also served as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, accepts his first full-time head coaching position at the collegiate level in his move to Messiah.
"I am truly honored to become a part of the Messiah College family," Lloyd said Tuesday. "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build a swim program at such a special place and to carry on the traditions and high standards which have made Messiah athletics so successful. Messiah strives for excellence in all that it does, and I am excited to be a part of a college which has made such a strong commitment to swimming and athletics."
The Falcons acquire a coach with an impressive history of getting quick results in Lloyd, as the five-time NCAA Division III All-American has expanded his coaching experience at the high school, collegiate and Olympic levels.
A 2002 graduate of Millikin University (NCAA Division III, Decatur, Ill.), Lloyd was hired as the head boys' and girls' swimming coach at Normal Community West High School (Normal, Ill.) in the fall of 2004. He quickly established himself as one of the area's top coaches, leading six members of the girls' team to the IHSA State Finals in 2004 while being named the IHSA Sectional Coach of the Year. His success continued at Normal West as he guided the boys' squad to an undefeated record in 2005. Lloyd helped the girls' team to a sectional title in 2005 — the first in school district history — while advancing the most athletes to that year's state championships with the smallest sectional team.
Prior to his arrival, Normal West had only one female swimmer ever to qualify for the state competition while the boys' team had never recorded a regular-season victory.
Following his productive seasons at Normal West, Lloyd spent a summer assisting at Michigan, where he was part of the staff which worked with NCAA All-Americans, national champions, world record holders and Olympic medalists. He also helped the Wolverines land the third-best recruiting class in the nation as rated by CollegeSwimming.com.
Perhaps Lloyd's biggest opportunity came in conjunction with his duties at Michigan, as he served as a high performance assistant coach with Club Wolverine, a top-tier U.S. swimming club, during the summer of 2006. During that time, Lloyd assisted U.S.A. Olympic coaches Bob Bowman and Jon Urbanchek in training middle distance and distance training groups, having an opportunity to work with six U.S. Olympians including Michael Phelps, Peter Vanderkaay and Eric Vendt. During his time there, Club Wolverine won the 2006 U.S.A. Swimming Conoco-Phillips National championship title.
"It was an amazing opportunity to work with world-class coaches and world-class athletes whom I have the utmost respect for," Lloyd said. "I was able to gain invaluable knowledge from the coaches there into the science of swimming and the ways in which coaches develop athletes towards greatness at that level. It was truly a phenomenal experience that I was very grateful to have had."
Lloyd now turns his collective efforts to pioneering, as Messiah will offer men's and women's swimming as an NCAA Division III sport for the first time beginning in the fall of 2008. The team will join the Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Conference, becoming the 10th team in the league to host the two sports.
"I'm excited about this opportunity at Messiah, and the process of building a solid foundation of a program and working with dedicated student athletes," Lloyd said. "It's an opportunity to build a program the right way at a place where everything is in place to succeed. In a lot of situations, coaches go to a place and they always talk about how things are missing, or a few things they wish were different. It's been clear to me that at Messiah they are interested and committed in the same things that I am, and that's building a national caliber swim program."
No stranger to the highest levels of NCAA Division III swimming, Lloyd was a standout distance swimmer at Millikin, setting 18 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) all-time records and earning most valuable swimmer honors following each of his four seasons with the Big Blue. His 9:37.93 clip in the 1,000-yard freestyle and his 15:55.43 time in the 1,650-yard freestyle still stand as Millikin records, while Lloyd was the 2000 CCIW Swimmer of the Year and a two-time NCAA Academic All-American Team member.
A graduate of Normal Community High School where he was a standout swimmer and two-time school record holder, Lloyd went on to Millikin were he won 18 Illinois all-state swimming honors and was a two-time state record holder in the 1,650-freestyle and 1,000-freestyle.
"I was raised in a home where my parents instilled the value of hard work and dedication in both my brother and myself," Lloyd said. "My brother and I both swam competitively since we were very young, and still to this day we both greatly value the life lessons that the sport of swimming has taught us. I learned how to respect the sport and the process, and I had great coaches that both challenged me and had a major impact on my life. The support I had at home and at the pool had a major impact on my life as I made a constant year-round commitment to this sport which has given me so much. Those experiences, interactions and support have all helped shape me as a coach.
"My love of division three athletics has been a mainstay," he continued. "You have kids at this level who are highly committed in both academics and in the pool, but are here for all the right reasons. Looking back, that's what I remember most about my (swimming) career. At this level, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes in all areas to be successful, but you do it for more than just the success. That's what I try to convey to my swimmers now, as a coach. It's all about believing, committing and learning from the process. You might not always get your idea of the perfect outcome, but the lessons we learn while going through the process transfer over in our lives."
Lloyd accepted the head coaching position at Lawrence on an interim basis just days before practice started this year, again putting his stamp on the program immediately. Lawrence is on the verge of placing a national qualifier on its women's side for the first time in over 10 years, while three school records and four meet records have already fallen under Lloyd's guidance.
"We've had a tremendous season so far," Lloyd said. "I think that almost every swimmer on our team has had lifetime-best swims without even tapering yet, and we're expecting even better things to come as we approach our conference championships. There is a new level of excitement here and it's becoming contagious. We've really focused on the mental aspect throughout our training this year, and I think that's had a strong impact here in the swimmers obtaining their personal bests in everything that they do."
Following his stint at Michigan, Lloyd began work on his master's degree at Eastern Michigan University, serving as a recruiting coordinator and consultant to his alma mater Millikin swimming program during the 2006-2007 season. Lloyd has also coached at a variety of camps and clinics, including the University of Michigan Swim Camps and the Josh Davis' Ultimate Swim Camp over the last two summers.
Lloyd is a member of USA Swimming, the American Swim Coaches Association, Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"Dan Lloyd brings to us all the qualities that we seek in a Messiah coach," said Jerry Chaplin, Messiah director of athletics. "He is knowledgeable and is an excellent teacher. He also has the enthusiasm and caring attitude to motivate our student-athletes to become the best that they can be. Finally, Dan understands what Messiah is about as an institution and will be a great fit here.
"We are excited to bring him to Messiah as our first swimming coach to begin our program in 2008-09."
Originally from Normal, Illinois, Lloyd is married to the former Kelly Anderson. Lloyd will complete the 2007-2008 season at Lawrence, and will officially assume reigns of the Messiah program immediately thereafter. The couple plans move to Pennsylvania in early April.
"This is a chance to build something great from the start, to put my stamp on what should become a nationally-competitive program," Lloyd said. "Everything is in line. Messiah stands alone in so many aspects and their commitment to excellence is so strong, there is no reason for this program not to do great things. It should be an extremely rewarding experience, and I am looking forward to building a new tradition here with a swim program that continues to add to an already impressive athletic department."
Messiah College, a private Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, enrolls 2,800 undergraduate students in 55 majors. Established in 1909, the primary campus is located in Grantham, Pa., near the state capital of Harrisburg. A satellite campus affiliated with Temple University is located in Philadelphia.
Special thanks to Messiah for contributing this report.