Champion ONU swim team shows off academic excellence
The long-decorated Olivet Nazarene University swim and diving program is drawing even more national attention.
The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) has announced that both the men's and women’s teams are among the record number of squads named Scholar All-America Teams.
With both squads led by veteran Coach Scott Teeters, the women’s team lapped the field out of the 638 teams and 394 schools honored, landing in the top spot among all NAIA institutions and in the top-20 of all institutions with a 3.62 GPA for the 2016 fall semester.
The Lady Tigers finished just a stone’s throw behind MIT (3.72) for the overall No. 1 spot in the country.
“We're proud beyond words; it's part of the commitment you take on in wearing this uniform,” Teeters told the Kankakee Times of being the 2016 NAIA national runner-up and a top-10 finisher for four seasons running.
“Beyond that, these kids are driven and they have their priorities in place," he added. "They know part of continuing to have a strong program lies in them being able to keep attracting kids based on what they’re achieving.”
The NAIA defending national champion men’s team wasn’t far behind, tying for second with a 3.18 average, behind only NCAA Division 1 Grand Canyon University (3.68).
While 91 more teams were honored this year compared to last, consistency appears to be part of the game for ONU.
The men’s squad has now finished in the top three for the NAIA final rankings each of the last four years, and Teeters insists both teams would have previously made the academic list if all of the proper paperwork had been filed.
"On and off the field, we’ve set ourselves aside apart from a lot of other schools,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited about the way these kids have adapted to the way we here at Nazarene like doing things.”
Teeters brought a level of that pedigree with him when he arrived at ONU. The veteran coach was a three-time all-American and two-time team captain while competing at Oakland University. Since taking the controls at ONU just five seasons ago, he’s twice been named national Coach of the Year.
“I tell my players if you work and strive to be the best and stay true to the principles, things have a way of turning out,” he said.
Overall, 73 percent of all CSCAA member programs posted GPAs of 3.0 or better for fall 2016, with more than 90 percent of Division I women's teams hitting the mark.
Part of the rise in the number of teams hitting such lofty standards is attributed to the overall growth of the sport. Schools sponsoring swim programs are at a 10-year high in keeping with past trends, which have seen an uptick in participation following Olympic years.