For the first time in nearly three decades the Plymouth State University women’s swimming and diving team will have a new leader, as long time head coach Al Switzer has announced his resignation effective at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year.
Switzer has led the Panthers for 27 years, the second longest tenured coach in the rich tradition of Plymouth State athletics.
“After 62 years of coaching swimming, it’s become more difficult physically,” said the 88-year old Switzer. “I still have a love and passion for the sport, but I feel it’s time to turn the program over to a younger person. I hope to stay involved with diving.”
“I am so grateful for all the years of service that Al has put into our athletic department and the women’s swimming and diving program,” said Director of Athletics Kim Bownes. “Al came to Plymouth State the year after me, so we have been colleagues for 30 years. He has always been a dependable, trustworthy, caring, intelligent coach, and I cannot thank him enough for all he has done over the years for our student-athletes and Plymouth State athletics. Al will truly be missed, but I hope he will still be teaching some classes and blessing us with his presence and good humor.”
Switzer has been synonymous with swimming in the Lakes Region for decades, operating the well-known Sandwich Aquatic School in his 60 x 25-foot backyard pool since 1966.
His extensive career has included consistently strong showings at the New England Championships. He is a four-time recipient of the Charles Batterman Award, being named the New England Women’s Diving Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2017 and 2018.
In 2015 he was recognized for his lifetime of dedication and commitment to coaching swimming and diving with a feature article in Swimming World Magazine (see article here).
Switzer began his coaching career in 1955 at Hebron Academy in Maine, where he coached football, swimming and baseball. He went on to coach for 19 years at the University of Maine at Orono, guiding the highly successful men’s program to two New England Division I titles. He has since been inducted into the Hebron Academy and University of Maine Athletic Halls of Fame.
Switzer guided the Panthers to seven straight winning seasons in the 1990s, while helping several swimmers reach the NCAA ‘B’ Provisional time standards. He leaves with an overall dual meet record of 134-126, including 14 winning seasons and six top-ten finishes at New England’s. His most impressive stint came in the seven seasons from 1992 – 1998 when his teams posted an overall dual meet record of 55-16 (.775), including the program record for wins in a season (ten) in the 1996-97 season.
In 2014 he was awarded the New Hampshire Union Leader Walter A. Smith Award for Coaches at the Leaders – A Celebration of Sports Champions banquet presented by the Manchester, N.H. paper, an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments, dedication and sacrifice of New Hampshire athletes, coaches and officials.
A national search for his replacement will begin immediately.