In October of 2014, Indiana State University announced they would be starting a women’s swim team in the fall of 2016. Today, the University announced Matt Leach will be the program’s first head coach. He will have the next year to recruit and form his team before practices start in September of 2016.
“Everyone at Indiana State has been great through this process, and I could not be more excited for this step forward in my career. This is not only an exciting opportunity for me, but it’s great for swimming at the collegiate and national level. The trend, as of recent, has been to eliminate swimming and diving programs and my hat goes off to Indiana State for bringing this team to life. With the great resources in place at Indiana State and Missouri Valley Conference, the Sycamores will fight hard to bring the program to prominence.” – Matt Leach
Leach has spent the last six years coaching with the University of Wyoming. Before Wyoming, he spent some time as a graduate and then volunteer assistant at LSU. While in college, Leach swam for Indiana University and graduated in 2004. As a swimmer, he helped lead Indiana to a Big Ten Championship title in the 200 medley relay as a senior and also competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials.
Indiana State currently has a a 6-lane, 25-yard indoor pool that is “not certified for competition” according to Athletics’ Director Ron Prettyman. The new program has been spurred on by the construction of a new aquatics center in nearby Voorhees Park in a partnership with the Vigo County School Corp. Indiana State has a verbal agreement, with details still being ironed out, to use the pool for competitions and potentially for practice when available.
The team will compete as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, which currently includes women’s programs from Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Illinois State, Evansville, Northern Iowa, and Arkansas-Little Rock.
The press release from the Indiana State Athletics is below:
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman announced on Monday (June 29) that Matt Leach has been named the inaugural head coach for the Women’s Swimming & Diving program, effective July 1.
With a proven track record in the state of Indiana and the swimming community, Leach comes to Indiana State from the University of Wyoming where he spent six seasons, including the last four seasons as associate head coach. He’s no stranger to the state of Indiana, as the Portland, Ore., native competed collegiately at Indiana University from 2000-04.
“Join me in welcoming Mr. Matt Leach as our new Head Swimming & Diving Coach at Indiana State University,” Prettyman said. “After meeting with a very strong group of candidates, it was clear that Matt is the perfect fit in the Sycamore Athletics family and in the Terre Haute community. He comes to us with a wealth of experience as a coach and has terrific connections in the swimming community for recruiting and scheduling. We are very excited to begin preparing for our initial season of competition, and look forward to celebrating championships with our community under Matt’s direction.”
Leach will take over a program in its first ever seasonin 2016-17, and will spend the upcoming season to build and recruit the program. The Sycamores will compete as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and practices and home meets will be held at Vigo County Schools Aquatic Center.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank President Dr. Dan Bradley and Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman for this opportunity,” Leach said. “Everyone at Indiana State has been great through this process, and I could not be more excited for this step forward in my career. This is not only an exciting opportunity for me, but it’s great for swimming at the collegiate and national level. The trend, as of recent, has been to eliminate swimming and diving programs and my hat goes off to Indiana State for bringing this team to life. With the great resources in place at Indiana State and Missouri Valley Conference, the Sycamores will fight hard to bring the program to prominence.”
Leach is coming off his sixth season (2009-15) at the University of Wyoming where he worked extensively with sprint swimmers. He helped head coach Tom Johnson to one of the program’s best finishes in school history at the Mountain West Championships, including the Cowgirls’ swimming to their four-consecutive top-three finishes and the Cowboys’ second place finish at the Western Athletic Conference Championships in 2013-14
“It’s hard to leave this chapter, but I’d like to thank the University of Wyoming for making this place my home for six years and turning friendships into family,” Leach said. “I’d like to thank Coach Tom Johnson, Athletics Director Tom Burman, Senior Woman Administrator Julie Manning and Deputy Director of Athletics Matt Whisenant for all their guidance and support during my time in Laramie.”
At Wyoming, Leach helped rewrite the Cowgirl record books, as every sprint event school record was broke during his time on staff. He has also coached sprint swimmers to NCAA and Olympic trials competitions. Leach helped lead Cowgirl sprint swimmer Kelsey Conci to the NCAA Championships in the 100 backstroke and the 50 and 100 freestyle. Conci placed 10th in the 100 backstroke at the 2011 NCAA Championships and ninth at the 2012 championships, becoming the first Cowgirl to earn back-to-back Honorable Mention All-America honors. He also helped Conci to a 2012 Olympic trials semifinal berth in the 100 backstroke.
Leach helped the Cowboys finish seventh and the Cowgirls finish eighth in the EndlessPools.com Mid-Major rankings in 2013-14. Leach also mentored Morgan Hartigan, as she earned All-MW honors in 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke and sprint-freestyle swimmer Cassie Stelow swam for the Cowgirls at the NCAA Championships in the 50 freestyle in 2009-10.
“I am really proud for Coach Leach and excited for him in this new opportunity,” Wyoming head coach Tom Johnson said. “He has worked extremely hard here at Wyoming to prepare himself for a position like this one. For him to go back to Indiana, and start with a fresh plate and emerging program at Indiana State is immensely exciting. He has so much energy and enthusiasm for the sport and his student-athletes. I feel like Indiana State made a tremendous hire in Matt Leach.”
Leach came to Wyoming from Louisiana State University where he began as a graduate assistant in 2004, and then as a volunteer assistant coach for two seasons (2007-09). At LSU, Leach helped guide several athletes to the NCAA Championships, and a top-25 ranking for both the men’s and women’s teams. Leach also served as the head age group coach at Tiger Aquatics from 2006-2009. After a short time there, Leach was named the 2007 Louisiana State Age Group Coach of the Year for his efforts in his first season. Earlier in his career, Leach was the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming program at Edgewood High School in Ellettsville, Ind.
A native of Portland, Ore., Leach swam in college at Indiana University where he was a four-year letterman and captain. He became a four-time All-American and helped the Hoosiers to a Big Ten Conference Championship in the 200 medley relay as a senior. He also still holds Hoosier records as a member of the 200 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay. Leach also performed on the national stage, as he took part in the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Coaching runs in Leach’s blood, his father, Gary, has 35 years of experience in the sport as a head age group coach for the Multnomah Athletic Club in his hometown of Portland, Ore. His parents, Gary and Mary Ann, still reside in Portland, Ore. and has an older brother, Jadam (wife Julie), along with his nephew, Mason and niece, Avery.
Leach graduated from Indiana in December 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental management. He received his master’s degree, also in environmental planning and management, from LSU in May 2007.
What They’re Saying About Coach Leach
- “I am really proud for Coach Leach and excited for him in this new opportunity. He has worked extremely hard here at Wyoming to prepare himself for a position like this one. For him to go back to Indiana, and start with a fresh plate and emerging program at Indiana State is immensely exciting. He has so much energy and enthusiasm for the sport and his student-athletes. I feel like Indiana State made a tremendous hire in Matt Leach.” — Wyoming Swimming and Diving Head Coach Tom Johnson
- “This is an excellent hire for Indiana State. Matt is a committed and faithful coach and will form a long term relationship with the program. It will be exciting to watch a young, energetic and experienced coach build his own program under the department’s and his vision.” — LSU Swimming Head Coach Dave Geyer
“Matt Leach is one of the finest young coaches in the NCAA. He has made every program better in ascended the coaching ladder. Indiana State is getting a fantastic person, mentor, teacher, and role model to reestablish swimming for their department. The state of Indiana is fortunate to add a coach of such stature. This is a great hire!” – Indiana Swimming head coach Ray Looze