Ball State Hires Geena Freriks, Promotes Chris Bals to Round Out Coaching Staff

Ball State swimming and diving has promoted Chris Bals, a former graduate assistant coach, to assistant coach. The Cardinals have also added two-time Olympic Trials qualifier Geena Freriks to their staff as a graduate assistant coach. 

Bals is replacing Kelsi Hall, who served as assistant coach for the Cardinals for two years and left for a private sector job in May. Freriks is stepping into Phoebe Campbell’s former position after she left for a full-time club job in Arkansas this spring.

Since Bals joined the staff two seasons ago, the Cardinals have broken seven program records, most recently the men’s 200 medley relay, and men’s 800 free relay at the 2020 MAC Championships. Last season, he joined head coach J. Agnew in coaching the men’s team to score their highest MAC Championship point total since 2006. The women’s team also performed well, scoring their highest MAC point total in 5 years. 

Chris Bals also swam under Agnew as a student-athlete at Purdue University where he earned a Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship in 2018. He finished his swim career as a Boilermaker ranked 4th in program history in the 100 breast and 5th in the 200 breast. Bals is currently studying for his masters in business administration at Ball State.

Agnew said, “His work ethic, passion for the sport, and drive to help student-athletes excel in and out of the pool are unparalleled. We are building something special here at Ball State and Coach Chris Bals is a driving force in our Cardinal family.”

Freriks also adds a high-level of swim experience to the Cardinal coaching staff. She currently holds the 19th fastest women’s 1000 free time in the world (9:30.78) and qualifies for the Olympic Trials in the 100 free LCM. During her collegiate swim career, she became one of University of Kentucky’s few freshman female SEC medalists, alongside Melissa Olson who won silver in the 400IM in 1997, after placing second in the 200 free. Freriks went on to hold program records in the 500 free (4:37.04), 1000 free (9:30.78), and 1650 free (15:57.64), alongside relay records in the 400 free relay, 800 free relay, and 200 medley relay.

She graduated in 2019 with a degree in dietetics and a minor in business, but the UK grad has continued competing in the pool. Her most recent sanctioned race was an exhibition 200 free (1:49.15) in February at the University of Kentucky’s dual meet against Cincinnati.

We are fortunate to have a graduate assistant who brings so much technical and competitive experience to our student-athletes,” Agnew said.

The Cardinals are entering their third season under Agnew. During his first season coaching at his alma mater, the Cardinal men and women finished 5th and 8th respectively at the MAC Championships. At the same meet this past season, the men’s team moved up a spot, claiming fourth, while the women’s team remained in 8th. In the 2019-2020 season Agnew also coached the women’s team to their first MAC victory since 2016, a dual meet victory over Toledo. Before Agnew took over, the men’s team placed 6th at the 2018 MAC Championships and the women’s team placed 8th.

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3 years ago

Very interesting move based on his “involvement” with the one of the two teams. I would be curious to hear what the two teams would say, especially the women’s team, back in 2019.

Retired swimmer
Reply to  ResLife
3 years ago

I second this.

Clown Show
3 years ago

Pretty much the whole Ball State team has COVID right now

3 years ago

The first female freshman medalist for UK was actually Melissa Olson in the 400IM

3 years ago

Go Cards!

3 years ago


Reply to  Iceman
3 years ago

Why “yikes”?

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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