North Central College welcomes its most recent national championship in swimming back to campus for the coming academic year, as director of athletics Jim Miller ’86 has announced the hiring of Mark Schmitt ’06 as the Cardinals’ head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach.
The 2006 NCAA Division III national champion in the 200-yard backstroke and a five-time Division III All-American, Schmitt brings several years of coaching experience at the competitive club level to the position, as well as a four-year stint as an assistant coach at North Central from 2009 to 2013.
“Swimming at North Central gave me so much in life,” Schmitt said. “It allowed me to achieve incredible goals that I had set for myself. I really want to give that opportunity that I had to other swimmers at North Central and build the program back to what it’s been in the past.”
Schmitt’s individual national crown was the 45th in the history of the Cardinals’ men’s program, which won four NAIA team national championships between 1958 and 1963, the first of North Central’s 31 team national titles, and owns a total of 21 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) team championships.
“Mark’s enthusiasm, experience and skill set will enable him to build up our men’s and women’s programs quickly, in terms of quantity as well as quality,” Miller said. “He’s a tremendously positive individual, and he’s directed his entire professional life toward being a swimming coach. We’re determined to make sure he has everything he needs to get off to a good start right away.”
Schmitt most recently served as the lead senior coach at the Maverick Swim Club in Naperville, with which he worked from 2008 to 2014. He coached multiple national-level swimmers and Illinois state champions for a club which saw more than 50 student-athletes continue their careers in college during that time. He also served as head coach for Naperville’s Hobson West Swim Club from 2011 to 2013, more than doubling the club’s size and increasing point totals at conference championship meets by more than 300 percent.
As an assistant coach at North Central, Schmitt developed the program’s weight-training program and acted as liaison and translator on competitive trips to Florida, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
“North Central has the best campus any school could ask for,” Schmitt said. “We have a great community in Naperville, Chicago is just a train ride away, and we have an academic environment which provides small classes and a great deal of individual attention. We can give student-athletes who come here a lot of great opportunities for academic and social growth.”
Schmitt spent two years on the men’s swimming team at the University of Iowa before transferring to North Central, where he was a team captain and five-time College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) individual champion before graduating in spring 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“Mark was a Division I swimmer out of high school and realized he fit better at a smaller institution like North Central,” Miller said. “He came here with a really healthy approach toward college and athletics, and went into his senior year with the goal of becoming a national champion. He put in the work and willed himself into making it happen.”
Schmitt plans to begin work in his new position on July 6.
Swimming news courtesy of North Central College.