To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.
2014 Honoree: Harvey Humphries, the University of Georgia
It seems like a no-brainer to give the NCAA Women’s Coach of the Year award to the head coach of the NCAA Champion women’s team.
But there’s two flaws in that logic:
1) We’re SwimSwam, and we don’t always believe in the ‘obvious’ choice being the ‘correct’ choice.
2) It wasn’t entirely obvious who the head coach was of the 2014 women’s NCAA Champion Georgia Bulldogs.
The Collegiate Swim Coaches’ Association of America (CSCAA), when handing out their 2013-2014 awards, dodged that bullet altogether by just giving the honor to Greg Meehan, the head coach of the runner-up Stanford women, and they didn’t miss the mark either: Meehan had his team firing on all cylinders, and they were about as good as they could be at NCAA’s.
To us, though, the uncertainty in Georgia makes us even more certain about who deserves this award: the 2014 “acting” head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Harvey Humphries.
Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle spent the majority of 2014 on suspension, meaning it was the year of Harvey. Despite an awkward situation with an NCAA investigation that took way too long and left way too much in limbo, Humphries kept his team focused and sharp at the year’s biggest meet as they won an NCAA title that was a no-doubter from the first event.
Bauerle will retake his throne at the helm of the program this week after the NCAA announced that his time served was enough to warrant a return to on-deck coaching immediately.
But for the year 2014, the year of Harvey, the Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat. And not to cage this in just Humphries deserving the award for overcoming a tough situation – Georgia had the best swimmer in the NCAA in 2014 Brittany MacLean, who won the 500 and the 1650 frees in March and set NCAA Records in both in the process.
We don’t know if coach Humphries will ever again get a shot as a head coach in the NCAA. We sure hope he does, and he deserves it, but if not, 2014 is enough to prove that he’s got the chops to do it.
- Greg Meehan, Stanford – To be clear, our above comments about Meehan were no disrespect to the Stanford coach. If we were starting a women’s college program right now, our choice for head coach would be Meehan. When Stanford hired Meehan away from the Cal men’s-only program in the summer of 2012, it was a bit of a gamble, but a gamble that has shown to pay off. In 2014, he revived the career of Felicia Lee, he turned Maya DiRado from a great swimmer into a star, and his team won four out of the five NCAA relays. That’s a fantastic year by any measure.
- Mike Dhrader, San Diego State – The Aztec women have been a good mid-major program for a long time, but 2014 was a breakout year for San Diego State. The team placed 27th at NCAA’s on the back of freshman sprinter Anika Apostalon. Not only was Apostalon good, but she was gutsy. Apostalon was involved in three swim-offs at the meet: one in the 200 free relay for a spot in the B-Final, one in the 50 free for a spot in the A-Final (she swam 21.89 in both of those instances), and one for a spot in the B-Final of the 100 backstroke, and she won them all. Along with NCAA teammates Mikaela Macklin, Natilee Ruiz, Whitney Weisz, and Chelsea Bailey, only one of whom graduated, the Aztecs made the country take notice.