Bowling Green State Swimming Makes Head Coaching Change After 8th-Place MAC Finish

Just a few days after the conclusion of its 2023-2024 season, Bowling Green State has announced that it “will be parting ways” with head coach Rickey Perkins. Perkins took over the program in Augustl 2018 and served for almost six years, including through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are extremely appreciative of Coach Rickey Perkins’ contributions and commitment to Women’s Swim & Dive at Bowling Green State University over the last six years,” said BGSU director of athletics Derek van der Merwe said. “He has positively impacted the lives of student-athletes, not only in competition but also influencing their lives beyond the pool. We are grateful for Rickey’s service to Bowling Green State University Swim & Dive.”

The press release says the program will launch a national search to find his replacement, adding that “BGSU Athletics strives to compete at the highest levels of competition allowing our athletes to thrive inside and out of the venue of competition.”

Van der Merwe took over as the school’s Athletics Director last February and immediately began making changes, including firing head men’s basketball coach Michael Huger less than a month after taking over the department after 8 seasons at the helm.

When Perkins arrived in 2018, BGSU was fresh off a 5th-place finish at the MAC Championships. He took over from Matt Ense, who was arrested in July 2018.

At last week’s MAC Championships, the Falcons finished last out of 8 teams with 149 points, which put them 81 points behind 7th-place Toledo. The meet was off to an inauspicious start when on day 1, their 800 free relay was disqualified under some controversy, costing the team 22 points.

As recently as the 2013-2016 seasons, the Falcons were top three in the Mid-American Conference in four consecutive seasons. While the program’s results shifted downward before he took over, the program eventually filtered to the bottom of the conference in three of the last four seasons.

BGSU’s MAC Finishes During Perkins’ Tenure

2019 6th 305
2020 5th 293.5
2021 8th 252.5
2022 6th 339
2023 8th 121
2024 8th 149

The team didn’t break any school records in the last two seasons, with the last coming in 2022 when Daisy Platts broke five individual records and two relay records before transferring to use her 5th year at Auburn.

Only three swimmers cracked the top 10 performances in program history in individual races this season: Blanca Sanz’s 10:19 in the 1000 free ranks her 10th, Grace Bodrock’s 2:02.67 in the 200 fly ranks her 9th, and Joanna Robertson’s 1:02.63 in the 100 breast ranks her 6th.

Whoever takes over the program will inherit a team with young talent: all three swimmers above, and most of the program’s top performers this season, were freshmen and sophomores.

While results in the pool faltered, results in the classroom remained strong. The Bowling Green State women had a cumulative team GPA of 3.69 in the fall 2023 semester, ranking them among the top 25 programs in Division I in that category.

Perkins came to the school from the University of Evansville in neighboring Indiana, where he had been the head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs since 2002. In that time, he was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year on 5 occasions, coached 13 swimmers to Missouri Valley individual event titles, and his swimmers broke 30 school records.

Perkins’ prior stops before Evansville included 3 seasons as the head assistant coach at the University of Washington from 1999-2002, 1 year as the National Coach for the Barracuda Swim Club in the Bahamas, and a decade of coach in Alaska, beginning in 1989. That includes as the head coach at his alma mater, Alaska-Anchorage, from 1994-1998.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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