No Surprise: It’s Teri McKeever.
Two-Time Defending NCAA Champs
Teri McKeever’s Cal women were unstoppable at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Caitlin Leverenz broke a U.S. Open/American/NCAA Record in the 200 IM, and nearly got another one in the 200 breaststroke (missing by a slim .01 seconds). She ended up as the recipient of the 2012 Honda Award for swimming, which is effectively the swimmer of the year honor.
They broke their own NCAA and American Records in the 200 medley relay at almost a second faster than the identical foursome broke it a year prior. In maybe the most impressive swim of the whole meet, though maybe not often recognized as such, the 400 medley relay broke the NCAA Record as well. They did so without having to use Liv Jensen at all, a former NCAA Champion in the 100 free.
Meanwhile, McKeever has wrapped maybe the two most high-profile recruiting classes in college history that are likely to destroy all of those medley relay records by the time they’re done.
All-told, the Cal women won 7 NCAA titles out of 18 swimming events.
Sometimes, just giving ‘Coach of the Year’ to the coach of the winning team is too easy. In the case of McKeever and what she’s done at Cal in the last year, including winning the NCAA Title, landing mega-recruit Missy Franklin, and helping Caitlin Leverenz really take her swimming to the next-level, both collegiately and internationally.
There are plenty of other coaches, however, who made monumental efforts, despite hitting a lower ceiling than Cal did.
Coaches like Louisville’s Arthur Albiero, who took his men from a 17th-place finish in 2011 to a 9th-place finish in 2012 at NCAA’s: more than doubling their point total in a single season. Or Chris Ip, who is currently an assistant at LSU after he finished out his run at Clemson with huge success and turned out a girls’ team that had the highest GPA in the country, despite facing the end of their program.
Texas A&M women’s coach Steve Bultman should get some big recognition too, even though his women only finished 6th at NCAA’s. He’s coached Breeja Larson to maybe the most improbable college swimming career in history, and in 2012 she broke American Records in both yards breaststroke events (the 100, many times over), won an NCAA title, and upset Rebecca Soni at the Olympic Trials in the 100 breaststroke. He put Cammile Adams on the Olympic Team too.
Drury head coach Brian Reynolds is always in the conversation, as his men won yet another NCAA title. This year, though, Sean Peters from Wayne State might upstage him from the Division II level; the Warriors most recent headlines have been for some power from their men’s program, but this year they knocked off Drury by a single point for the women’s title.
Or maybe even Denison’s Gregg Parini. True, his men’s 2011 title, broke the 31-year streak. In 2012, though, they took the always-challenging second-straight title, and led nearly wire-to-wire for a huge 81-point victory.
And of course, McKeever’s counterpoint Dave Durden, who coached the men’s NCAA Championship team, gets a nod too.
The Cal women have hit a tipping point. Every recruit that’s anybody takes a visit there. This is a team that seems to have hit a point where they’re only limited by how well they can balance their scholarship dollars: a game that McKeever seems to have mastered as well as anyone.