Celebrating Three Historic Indiana High School Boys Swimming Programs


Celebrating Three Historic Indiana High School Boys Swimming Programs

In the first of a two-article series, the rich tradition of Indiana high school swimming is examined. We start with the boys’ programs, with the girls’ programs to follow in Part II.

Each year, thousands of high school students across the country dive into the pool for the start of their high school swim season. Swimming at the high school level is unlike any other type of competition. In a sport that is usually all about the individual, it becomes about the team. If one state takes this to the next level, it’s the state of Indiana.   


When talking about the state of Indiana, many people might associate it with anything but swimming. If you look a little deeper, you find that Indiana has a rich history in the sport that goes back almost a century. Since Indianapolis Shortage won the first Indiana High School Athletic Association state swimming title in 1928, the state has continuously gotten faster every year. Twenty-one high schools have taken home at least one trophy from the state meet. Three of these men’s high school teams stand out among the rest.


When you think about swimming in Indiana, it’s hard not to think about Carmel High School. The boys’ team has been named National High School Champions by Swimming World multiple times, has won the IHSAA state meet 21 times and has brought home an additional 34 sectional titles. 

Although it is the state’s powerhouse, it hasn’t always been this way. Not until the mid 1980s did Carmel start seeing some success in the pool, and once 1990 hit, the program blasted off the wall and helped rewrite the state record book. 

In 2006, Chris Plumb was named the head coach of Carmel’s men and women’s teams. Since the hiring of Plumb, Carmel has returned to its former state dominance, which temporarily dropped off in the 1990s. Carmel has won eight state titles in the last 10 years and has not lost a sectional title since 2007. 

Carmel’s dominance in the state has also been seen at the national and world levels, with two former swimmers, Jake Mitchell and Drew Kibler, representing Team USA at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

South Bend Riley

The city of South Bend, Indiana is typically known for one thing…Notre Dame. But within the city, there is a high school program that has captured seven IHSAA state championships, and that team is South Bend Riley. When the team originated in 1952, it only took four years for coach Richard Fetters to win Riley’s first state title. Six more titles followed, along with seven runnerup finishes. 

South Bend Riley saw the height of its success throughout the 1970s and 80s, winning the state meet twice (1978 & 1986). It also finished twice four times (1976, 1979, 1980 & 1983). During this time, coach Dave Dunlap led his swimmers to multiple individual championships. One of his most successful swimmers, Brad Toothaker, won the 100 butterfly three consecutive years at the state meet. 

Riley’s most interesting state championship victory came in 1995. After finishing second to Carmel, S.B. Riley came home with a runnerup trophy. The true winner of the meet would not be declared until years later. According to the IHSAA, Carmel used an ineligible swimmer during the state meet and following a court battle, the swimmer was disqualified from the four events he had competed in. After this decision, Carmel dropped to third in the standings, making South Bend Riley the 1995 state champion.

Current coach John VanDriessche has brought home two state runnerup trophies during his tenure, along with an additional eight sectional titles.


When looking at dominant high schools in the state of Indiana, Munster High School stands out. In its long history, Munster has brought home seven state championships and three runnerup finishes. Although it is no small feat to win seven state titles. Munster’s most impressive record comes with how many sectional titles it has won – a state record 51. Even more impressive is the fact that the last time it lost a sectional meet was in 1985, leaving the Munster Seahorses with 36 consecutive sectional titles. 

The dominance of Munster swimming began in 1969 with the hiring of legendary coach Jon Jepsen. During Jepsen’s tenure, his teams earned many accolades, including the crowning of 24 individual state champions, 22 sectional championships, and 14 undefeated seasons.

During his career at Munster, Jepsen had an intense rivalry with another team on this list, South Bend Riley, with both teams going back and forth with each other at the state meet during the late 1970s. Both teams continue to meet today, in an annual long course dual meet.

In 2019, Munster saw a change of leadership with the hiring of coach Tina Schmidt-McNulty. In her first year, she guided Munster to a state runnerup finish.