PHOENIX, Arizona, October 11. QUEENS University is quickly making a name for itself in Division II collegiate swimming, and head coach Jeff Dugdale talks about the strategies to bring the team into prominence on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show.
The partnership Dugdale has with SwimMAC-Carolina — and with that team's head coach, Dave Marsh — has worked well to help Dugdale fashion a philosophy for the team that includes goals that go beyond the NCAA championships each year. Dugdale talks about the team's four-year plan and why he doesn't really feel a rivalry brewing with in-state Division II school Wingate University. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Thursday, October 11, 2012. I am your host Jeff Commings. Today in the FINIS Monitor we will be joined by Jeff Dugdale who is in his third season as Head Coach of the swim teams at Queens University in North Carolina. Queens swimmers have been doing very well in just a short amount of time and Jeff Dugdale joins us now from Charlotte, North Carolina to talk about it. Hey coach, welcome to the show, how are you today?
Jeff Dugdale: Great Jeff. Thank you for having me on this morning.
Jeff: It is a great pleasure to have you on. So as we said Queens is doing very well here. You just started your third season there at the All-North Carolina invite. Now I know it is the first meet of this season. Everybody is a little bit you know a little bit rugged, but tell me what you saw there from your swimmers there at Queens?
Jeff Dugdale: Well, yeah. I saw a team that is ready to race. A team that is ready to say, “Yes, we are a division 2 school and we handle the balance of division 2 but we are definitely ready to compete at the D1 level.” We walked away with some wins and literally what it told us was that we had a solid first training cycle and all of our swimmers look like they were in good shape and this is a true testament to their club coaches back home sending them here in shape and I really want to give a shout out and thank you to all their club coaches who sent them to me in very good shape and ready to swim.
Jeff: Is that a problem that you have had before your swimmers coming back from the summer and not really being prepared to do the work that you want them to do?
Jeff Dugdale: It is not a problem I have had because the expectations are set, but it is something that I think every college coach fears when they go home is not necessarily what the coaches have done, but it is what happens when they get home and the accountability we start to lose a little bit of control when send them home and but I think we recruit out of some very solid programs and in fact I know we recruit from some very solid programs. So I have no worries at all when they go home that they will be held accountable and that they will get the work they need to be able to come back in and shape and one of the reasons I stress that is so important is to also reduce the number of injuries we have throughout the year because in college as you know we do have a very long season.
Jeff: Well you said you kind of alluded earlier that you're a Division 2 school that trains like a Division 1 school and having seen how Division 2 swimmers train and compete I understand what you are talking about, but tell our viewers kind of what you kind of mean with having that mindset?
Jeff Dugdale: Well, thank you for asking that because I want to clarify because there is a lot of Division 2 schools out there that are all with the intent and they're trying to make it happen and making it happen at a very high level. What separates Queens University of Charlotte specifically is the fact that we are committed and looking forward to a quadrennial plan which is more focused on U.S.A. Swimming and which separates us from a lot of us NCAA schools and in doing that, we use the NCAA experience to really recruit some very talented swimmers, but knowing that their talent will help them perform at the highest level at NCAAs, but keep them very focused on never sacrificing their progress towards their quadrennial plan of that being the Olympic trials or making the Olympic team.
Jeff: I would imagine this kind of goes hand-in-hand with the partnership that you and Queens swimmers have with SwimMac-Carolina, am I correct in saying that?
Jeff Dugdale: Exactly. This is Coach Marsh and my vision in how we want to change the sport of swimming in the fact that a lot of teams are dropped or there has been teams in the past that have dropped unfortunately. This is not something that we want to see continue to happen at a Division 2 program. We like the rules. We like the resources. We like the vision that specifically Queens had and it allows us the opportunity and the fact that they are also building us a new pool that we can focus this way and share through partnerships show a new model to schools to avoid them being dropped in the future is our goal.
Jeff: Now, as I have said this is your third season. You kind of had the opportunity now to settle in to it. Is the reality meeting the expectations that you have coming in?
Jeff Dugdale: That is a good question. That is something I reflect on often and Coach Marsh and I just had a conversation, a sit down about the reality of our expectations. Although we are ahead of schedule in many aspects, we are still finding ourselves a little bit behind in the fact that with a new pool being built we don't have all of the resources. We are utilizing four different pools right now for our college swimmers, but what we are finding is that through this chaos and using these four different pools that our swimmers are actually benefiting from it because they are learning in some important life lessons n how to manage their time, but I can only imagine how we will quickly get to our expectations as soon as everybody can see this pool. We move in July 1st. The shell is up. They are pouring the sides of it. It is pretty impressive what this D2 program is building on. The administration and the school has invested into the sport of swimming and I kind of feel like to tell you the truth Jeff, is that we are kind of like the football on campus and it makes this steps on campus here really see the love that an athlete can receive that sometimes is lacking anywhere else is because of football or some of the big sports.
Jeff: Yeah especially at the Division 1 level.
Jeff Dugdale: Yeah.
Jeff: Well, as I kind of noticed here, you are not the only the big time Division 2 swimming school in North Carolina. Wingate is there. They have been doing very well for many years and we kind of got some kind of rivalry going. I know that you know like they have been more established, but do you kind of see that as kind of the goal of being ahead of them in the near future?
Jeff Dugdale: Wow that is a loaded question. Kirk Sanocki, Head of Wingate, is a very dear friend of mine and I even go as far as to say that I see him as a mentor and not necessarily a formal rival because sometimes he doesn't know how much I am learning from him, but Kirk is actually very responsible in helping us get started here. I have the utmost respect for Kirk, but we are both competitive. So your answer is yes, we do have a little bit of a rivalry, but I will tell you this is what I love about Division 2 swimming is that at NCAAs we are cheering for everyone together and Kirk has sat there and could have left the building because the swims were done and he has cheered for our swimmers. We were behind the lanes cheering for his swimmers and the fact is, is yes we are competitive but and it is a friendly rival, but the whole fact is that the respect Kirk and I have for each other and that is all of our teams within the Bluegrass Mountain and Division 2 that we – it is really fun where we are going and I learned something very important from Coach Marsh very early on is that with our rival when I swam at Auburn against Alabama that one time I thought when they were switching coaches I asked Coach Marsh I said, “Boy, this is going to be a great time for us to really go after them and turn the tide.” And he said, “It is not in our best interest for Alabama to move down in the rankings because when two teams are sharp they only sharpen each other.” And so I have kind of learned that, so Kirk and I have an agreement that we are going to do the best we can to keep Division 2 swimming at a very high level and show the swimming community that there are opportunities at this Division 2 level that will attract some of the top swimmers D1 or D2.
Jeff: Yeah, that is a perspective I rarely heard before. It is very interesting that you two have that dynamic. So speaking of kind of how you guys are performing, you were 11th at NCAA's this past March. Is there a top 10 finish in the cards this next season?
Jeff Dugdale: Well we definitely came off a really good recruiting year and then I do feel that you know I can't predict the future and as you know Jeff unfortunately I can't get in. I am past my prime so I can't get in and swim for them, but I will tell you that everything is in place with our swimmers that if they were to perform to their potential and beyond and that is what where they ask coaches that is what we try to do and strive for every year. That I do believe that we will put ourselves in a good position to capitalize on a top 10 finish but ultimately what we want to do is continue to excel at the highest over both in the classroom and in the water and I do believe smart swimmers are fast swimmers so I like where we are going and the direction we are going in.
Jeff: Well you said you are past your prime but there is always Masters you know.
Jeff Dugdale: Well you know what you are inspiration to us all. We watched very closely your comeback this year and swimming at Olympic Trials and thank you for being a leader in the way that you did and someday I have got to get myself back in.
Jeff: It is the fountain of youth I found, Jeff, so you know it is always good to see more people coming back into the sport.
Jeff Dugdale: Thank you.
Jeff: All right Jeff thanks so much for joining us. Best of luck this season and we will see each other down the road on the deck.
Jeff Dugdale: Thank you Jeff. Have a great one.
Jeff: You too. So that is Jeff Dugdale joining us in the FINIS Monitor from Charlotte, North Carolina and that is going to do it for today's Morning Swim Show. As always we invite you to join us at swimmingworld.com on Facebook or on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. I am Jeff Commings. Thanks for watching.
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