After 62 years of coaching, former University of Maine men’s swimming coach Alan Switzer has announced his retirement at the end of the academic year.
For the last 27 years, Switzer has served as the women’s swimming and diving coach and has held other aquatic responsibilities at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.
“He has always been a dependable, trustworthy, caring and intelligent coach and I can not thank him enough for all he has done over the years for our student athletes and Plymouth State athletics,” Plymouth State athletics director Kim Bownes said in a news release. “Al will be truly missed, but I hope he will still be teaching some classes and blessing us with his presence and good humor.”
This year, Switzer’s divers won the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association championship. He was voted the 2018 Diving Coach of the Year, a recognition he also earned in 2017, 2004 and 2003.
“It’s become more difficult physically. I still have a love and passion for the sport, but I feel it’s time to turn the program over to a younger person. I hope to stay involved in diving,” Switzer said in the release.
The 88-year-old Switzer began his coaching career at Hebron Academy in 1955 at Hebron Academy in Maine, where he coached football, swimming and baseball.
He then coached at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, before being named the first swimming and diving coach at the University of Maine, where he coached for 19 years. During his tenure with the Black Bears, UMaine won two New England Division I titles.
Switzer has been inducted into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the Maine Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame, and the Hebron Academy Hall of Fame.
Bath swimmers continue success
Olivia Harper’s recent title in the 100 backstroke at the YMCA National Short Course Championship marked the fifth gold medal won by a Bath YMCA swimmer at the competition.
“We had success in the early years at the meet. The swimmers were not satisfied simply to qualify. Years ago, the kids started believing they could go to the meet and win,” said Jay Morissette, coach of the Bath YMCA swim team since 1985.
In addition to five national championship medals, two Bath YMCA swimmers have set national records. James Wells set a record in the 50-meter long course backstroke in 2010 and in 2016 Caitlyn Tycz established a mark in the 100 butterfly.
Wells continued his swimming at Indiana University where he was a Big Ten champion and an Olympic Trials qualifier. Tycz, who also has raced in the Olympic Trials, swims at the University of Southern California. He recently competed for the Trojans in the NCAA Division I championship.
“I am really proud of our relatively consistent success at the meet,” said Morissette, who has coached over 75 YMCA All-America swimmers.
A year ago, Harper was a member of the Bath YMCA 200 freestyle relay that won the event at the national YMCA meet.
“The experience on the relay with Caitlin, Ann Tolan and Ella Martin accelerated [Harper’s] maturity in terms of understanding the importance of the proper mental approach,” Morissette said.
“We knew that physically Olivia had the talent to win the backstroke event, but we were a little less sure about her mental approach. There was some self-doubt. We did a lot of race visualization. “
“We focused on those elements of the race that she can control like the stroke tempo, kicks off the wall, breakout strokes, and starts. She must have swam the race 30 times in her mind before she got in the pool to race it. She did an amazing job.”
In winning the 100 backstroke title Harper, who won the Maine Class B title in the event in February at 54.6 seconds, lowered her mark in the national field of 179 competitors to 53.7.
She also finished second in the 200 backstroke (1:57).
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