Ithaca College Women’s Coach Paula Miller Retires after 36 years

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

Paula Miller, who served as the head coach of Ithaca College’s women’s swimming and diving team for 36 years, announced her retirement Thursday.

Kevin Markwardt, the school’s men’s swimming and diving head coach, has been appointed to take charge of the women’s team. Mike Blakely-Armitage was promoted to be a full-time assistant for both teams and the assistant aquatics coordinator.

Miller guided the Bombers to 12 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Division III championships. Under her watch, they won 29 NYSWCAA/UNYSCSA and 30 conference championships. She combined a 334-61-3 dual-meet record, including 11 undefeated seasons.

She coached 78 athletes to a total of 496 All-America honors, including 2018 NCAA diving champion Nickie Griesemer and 1989 100 backstroke champ Amy Robinson. The bombers finished as high as fourth at NCAA’s on two occasions.

“I have been very blessed and extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to teach and coach at IC for the last 36 years,” Miller said in a university release. “I immediately fell in love with Ithaca College the moment I stepped on campus and met the people; and this feeling has only grown stronger over my tenure. …

“I have so many people to thank for this wonderful experience starting with the administration; the entire athletic department and fellow colleagues for their support as well as the many coaches and assistant coaches that I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from. And most importantly the student-athletes, who through their dedication and sacrifices have made this such an elite swimming & diving team. The overall success of the program has been achieved through a collaborative effort of many people; based on love of the sport and wanting to be the very best. To me, that is what being a Bomber is all about.”

The two-time Division III Coach of the Year (1987, 1999) was inducted to the Ithaca College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014. Nine of her former athletes are in the hall.

“Paula Miller is the ultimate professional,” Ithaca Director of Athletics Susan Bassett said. “Speaking as a former swimming coach, her reputation among the coaching community is impeccable. She has sustained a high level of performance over four decades. Working with her as the current director of athletics has been a joy and a wonder as she has created and sustained great relationships with her students. They know she is completely committed to their success and available as a mentor on all matters.”

Miller moving on allows another university stalwart to take her place. Markwardt has spent 39 seasons at Ithaca, the last 33 as the men’s swimming and diving coach. The program’s winningest leader, he has a career record of 384-87.

“I am honored and excited to become the head coach of both men’s and women’s swimming & diving at Ithaca College,” Markwardt said. “It is bittersweet that my long association with head women’s coach Paula Miller will be coming to an end. Over the many years, I have been privileged to see, not only the amazingly consistent success of the women’s program, but the personal relationships and mentoring that Coach Miller inspired to drive that success. Paula always set the bar high for her athletes, and the strong team unity that she fostered will be a guiding principle as we look to maintain and build on the storied program success of the women’s swimming & diving team.”

Blakely-Armitage is a 2000 graduate of Ithaca who returned to his alma mater last season. He had previously served as an assistant for the Bombers from 2000-04 and spent 10 seasons until 2019 as the head boys swimming and diving coach at Ithaca High School.

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3 comments

  1. Sue Beuttel

    An amazing career, and so happy my daughter had 4 fabulous years! Going out on top as Liberty Leauge Champs!!!💙💛💣

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