St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma will add three sports in the 2014-2015 academic year, making them only the 2nd varsity college swim team in the state of Oklahoma, joining fellow NAIA members Oklahoma Baptist. St. Gregory’s will add both a men’s and women’s swimming program next season, in addition to a men’s lacrosse team.
The school’s athletics program has exploded in the last few years; they added men’s golf this year, and in the 2012-2013 season added men’s and women’s track, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s golf. This will bring the total number of varsity programs to 17, with no football included on that list.
“We feel like there are several potential students we can attract to SGU who may otherwise leave the state to continue their careers collegiately,” Potter said of the three newest additions to the school’s lineup.
St. Gregory’s is part of a recent explosion of new collegiate varsity swimming and diving programs in the last two years, though none have been at universities that would be considered ‘major players’ in the college athletics scene. The growth is particularly strong through the middle part of the country in states that have seen big growth in swimming at the prep level as well. That includes programs like Maryville University in Missouri, which opened shop this year, the reestablishment of a program at nearby Missouri – St. Louis, and Nebraska Weslyan, which in 2014-2015 will launch the only men’s swimming program in the state of Nebraska.
As was noted by St. Gregory’s in its announcement, Oklahoma’s six-state region has approximately 33,000 high school swimmers at more than 900 schools, and by comparison relatively few collegiate programs.
St. Gregory’s currently has a 5-lane indoor pool with a deep end and a shallow end, and no obvious windows.
St. Gregory’s University is located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which is about a 35-minute drive east of downtown Oklahoma City on I-40. It also has a satellite campus in Tulsa, and between the two schools has a total enrollment of around 750 students, about half of which are full-time. That means that the athletics program will grow to the size in 2014-2015 where a huge majority of the students are athletes.