May 13, 2011

Gowdy steps down as men's and women's head coach

NORTON, Mass. - Wheaton College men's and women's swimming & diving eighth-year head coach Jean-Paul Gowdy announced his resignation from the school's coaching staff, effective at the end of the month.  A national search for Gowdy's permanent replacement has already begun.  Gowdy accepted the head coaching post at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California.

"Wheaton is a terrific place," said Gowdy, "and it's been a wonderful eight years.  I'm grateful to the athletic department and the college for taking a chance on a 25-year-old without head coaching experience.  The people here are great, beginning with the students.  The staff and the faculty have also been wonderful.  Wheaton attracts a top-notch individual, and it's been a pleasure working with everyone.  I'm proud of where the teams have come, and I know whoever is hired will continue to build upon that.  I'll always have great memories of my time here."

Gowdy has lifted Wheaton to new heights during his tenure, including leading his athletes to national championship meets while witnessing the first NCAA All-Americans in men's and women's program history.  He also guided the Lyons to their highest placements at the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship.

"It has been a pleasure working with J.P. and watching him build our men's and women's swimming & diving programs to a high level both within the NEWMAC as well as in New England these past eight years," said Associate Director of Athletics John Sutyak '00.  "His leadership provided Wheaton with a number of scholar-athletes who have been tremendous assets to the school both in the classroom as well as in the pool.  We are losing a great leader."

Gowdy pushed the women to at least eight wins each of the last seven seasons, and the squad's third-place showings at three straight conference championships from 2008-2010 are the best in school history.  In 2009, Gowdy was lauded as NEWMAC Women's Swimming Coach of the Year, the same year the Lyon women recorded a team finish at the NCAA Championship for the first time.  All but one of the women's 27 event records have taken place during Gowdy's tenure.

For the men, Gowdy has four times helped Wheaton finish a program-best fourth place during the NEWMAC Championship while leading the squad to the school's most victories mark on two occasions.  In 2005, the Lyons had their first swimmer garner NCAA All-America honors at the national championship.  That year began three straight years in which Wheaton placed at the national meet.  All the men's 27 event marks have transpired with Gowdy at the helm.

Gowdy came to Wheaton from league school Springfield College, where he served as a graduate assistant swim coach.  Gowdy earned a master's degree in physical education at Springfield in 2008.  He is a 1999 graduate of Middlebury College, acquiring a bachelor's degree in economics.

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