By any standard, St. Thomas Swimming and Diving has to be considered one of the hottest programs in the MIAC.
In this decade, the women’s team has improved from ninth all the way to first place in the MIAC. The men’s team has climbed from sixth place in the conference to 2010 when it won its first championship in 56 years. The men have eight consecutive MIAC top-two finishes with championships in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The women have three consecutive MIAC titles -- the first in program history.
Over a span of eight seasons, former head coach Tom Hodgson won MIAC Coach of the Year honors seven times, and diving coach Mark Dusbabek was named MIAC Diving Coach of the Year while in only his second season with the program. Current head coach Scott Blanchard won MIAC Swimming Coach of the Year awards in 2015 and 2017.
Fueling the program momentum has been the advantage of training and competing in a state-of-the-art facility. From 1940-2010, the home of UST swimming was the five-lane O’Shaughnessy Natatorium in old O'Shaughnessy Hall. Now the team practices and competes in the aquatic center within the $52 million Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex, which opened in 2010. It features an eight-lane, 25-yard-by-25 meter pool for swimming meets, as well as a diving area.
This amazing improvement also comes from a refined focus on the details of swimming and a highly specific approach to training: Perfect stroke, start, turn and finish mechanics, and workouts centered on practicing at race speed. At St. Thomas, you’ll practice at race pace, and then recover. You will be asked to think while you swim and tend to good mechanics, but you won’t be subjected to week after week of 12,000 yard a day practices. We believe that being a well-rounded student-athlete is important, and that when you practice being fast, with focused, high-intensity training, you will reach your potential.
For 30-plus years, Tommie Swimmers and Divers have called themselves, “The Family.” This reflects a culture of caring among a closely-knit group of young men and women who are known around campus for their academic excellence (with perennial Scholar All-America awards), generosity of spirit (with two national community service awards), and a reputation around campus for their enthusiastic involvement.
Hodgson retired in May 2014 after 35 seasons, and three-year assistant coach Scott Blanchard was hired to oversee the men's and women's teams. Blanchard has continued the recent gains on the conference and national scene while carrying on the program's close-knit identity.
Over the last three decades, UST swimming and diving has produced more than 100 MIAC champs and more than 50 All-America performances.
Emma Paulson won three NCAA individual titles in 2016 (50 free, 100 and 200 back) and also was voted a Co-SIDA Academic All-America. Paulson helped the 2016 Tommies win ther program's first MIAC title. She finished as a nine-time All-America, an eight-time relay HM All-America, and an 18-time MIAC champion. She leaves with her name on 10 St. Thomas individual and relay events. She was the Honda Division III Swimmer of the Year for 2015-16, and was named the Most Outstanding Women's Swimmer at the national meet. Twice she was named MIAC Swimmer of the Year. She broke three MIAC all-time records in the 2016 nationals: the 50 free (22.77), the 100 back (54.43), and the 200 back (1:56.33).
Team tryouts are held during the first week of October, and each team (men’s and women’s) generally carries around 35 student-athletes.