Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee has announced that it will add men’s and women’s swimming as the school’s newest varsity sport in the fall of 2020. Martin Methodist, which has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 900 students, competes in the NAIA.
The school has simultaneously announced the hiring of Drew Peterson as the program’s first head coach.
The RedHawks will compete in the Mid-South Athletic Conference, which the school as a whole will join next season. That conference has 11 men’s swimming programs and 12 women’s swimming programs, including associate members. That includes 5 teams of each gender that finished in the top 10 of last year’s NAIA National Championship meet. That includes 3rd-place men’s team Lindenwood-Belleville and 3rd-place women’s team University of the Cumberlands.
The sports mark the 19th and 20th varsity sports for Martin Methodist. The school, which once boasted an enrollment of over 1,100 students, saw that number decline throughout the 2010s, reaching as low as 770 undergraduates in 2018. That trend has reversed with current enrollment listed at 910. A number of smaller schools, especially NAIA schools, have added swimming in recent years (with NAIA participation exploding over the last half-decade). A number of those schools have used the addition of the sport as a way to boost enrollment numbers, though Martin Methodist did not specifically cite that purpose.
The teams will practice and compete in the Grissom Natatorium, an on-campus, 6-lane, 25-yard facility.
Peterson comes to Martin Methodist with a resume that includes stops at three NCAA institutions, most recently as an assistant coach at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
While at Georgetown, Peterson was part of a staff that was named 2019 Men’s Swimming Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. Peterson’s chief duties with the Hoyas included recruiting, compliance and various other day-to-day responsibilities.
Peterson also spent time as an assistant at NCAA Division III schools Rhodes College and The Catholic University of America.
Prior to his coaching career, Peterson was a member of the swimming and diving team at the University of Tennessee. During his career with the Vols, Peterson was a 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier in the 200 and IMs and was a 200 IM finalist at the 2013 SEC Championships.
Academically, Peterson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Sport Management from the University of Tennessee. Peterson received his Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management from The Catholic University of America.