SAVANNAH, Georgia, April 3. SAVANNAH College of Art and Design athletics director Jud Damon announced that men's and women's swimming coach Scott Rabalais has decided to step down from his position, effective at the end of the school year, to pursue other opportunities.
"It will be extremely difficult to fill coach Rabalais' shoes," said Damon. "Coaches of his caliber are rare indeed. While his achievements and accolades are numerous, it is his passion for excellence in all that he does and his commitment to the overall development of student-athletes that will be missed most acutely. We are conducting a national search for his replacement and, thanks in large part to the extremely successful program he has built, I expect we will have a very strong pool of candidates. The college and our athletics department will always be grateful for the fantastic job he did in his six years here."
Rabalais recently completed his sixth season as head coach for the Bees. Rabalais started the program from scratch in the fall of 2002 as a club program and within six months, swimming became a varsity sport. The Bees have amassed a 251-144 record (151-71 women, 100-73 men) over the past six seasons, good for a .635 winning percentage. SCAD swimmers have earned 19 national titles at the NAIA National Championships in the program's history.
Both SCAD teams earned their second consecutive third-place finish at the NAIA National Championships last month in San Antonio, Texas, as the Bees earned seven national titles – the second-highest total in the history of the program – and set the college's second NAIA meet record.
"I am eternally grateful to SCAD for the opportunity to help build the swimming program over the past six years." said Rabalais. "The college administration and our athletics director, Jud Damon, have been extremely supportive and I have worked alongside a fine group of world-class coaches and staff members. Also, I wish to sincerely thank the student-athletes for their commitment to athletics and to their personal develop development. In every sense, I have been most fortunate to work with some fine young men and women and their families."
During the 2006-2007 season, two swimmers won national championship titles, with a SCAD swimmer posting the college's first NAIA record. Rabalais was named 2005-06 NAIA Men's Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year as the women's ranked second at the national championships and the men finished third at the 2006 NAIA Nationals.
The women's team produced eight national championship titles, along with the NAIA Women's Swimmer of the Meet. In 2004-05, the women – including two national champions – and men finished fifth and eighth, respectively, at the national championships as Rabalais was named the NAIA Women's Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year. He was also named the athletics department's Coach of the Year in 2004-05.
During his first season as the SCAD varsity coach in 2003-04, he guided 11 swimmers to an 11th place men's finish and a 12th place women's finish at the NAIA National Championships. During the previous year, Rabalais was instrumental in offering swimming as a club sport at SCAD.
Rabalais serves as past president of the NAIA Swimming and Diving Coaches Association. In past years, he has been named United States Masters Swimming Coach of the Year and recipient of the Masters Aquatic Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as coordinator of coaching for Masters Swimming camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and as vice president of United States Masters Swimming and is the former Coaches Committee chairman. He also has served as president the Savannah Coastal Swim League.
Rabalais is a prolific writer and has been published in numerous swimming publications. He has conducted many swim clinics and lectured around the world.
As an athlete, Rabalais has been named a USMS All Star and All-American and has won numerous national championship titles in distance freestyle events. After swimming in college at Louisiana State University, the Baton Rouge, La., native was an Ironman and professional triathlete for six years and ranked as high as fourth in the country during the mid-1980s.
Special thanks to SCAD for contributing this report.