Courtesy: UNCW Athletics
WILMINGTON, N.C. – UNCW’s Seahawk Natatorium, home of the school’s highly successful swimming and diving teams, will be renamed the David B. Allen Natatorium to commemorate the remarkable 37-year commitment of Dave Allen as head coach of the program from 1977-2014.
A formal dedication ceremony will be announced at a later date. Allen’s name became synonymous with the UNCW swimming and diving program following an ultra-successful career full of impressive accomplishments.
“We’re extremely pleased to pay tribute to one of the most beloved head coaches in the history of our program,” said Jimmy Bass, UNCW’s athletic director. “It’s only fitting that the facility be named in honor of the person that established the swimming and diving program and made it so successful. We’re grateful to Dave and his family for their many contributions to Seahawk swimming and diving.”
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Allen coached teams to 542 dual meet wins at three institutions. Prior to UNCW, where he fashioned a record of 494-356 in 37 seasons, he coached one season at Allegheny College and then six at Potsdam State. During his time at UNCW, Allen coached 15 All-Americans, 155 conference champions and 19 Eastern winners.
“I am truly humbled and appreciative of this honor in my name,” said Allen. “During my coaching career at UNCW, I was very fortunate to come in contact with many talented and professional faculty, staff and student athletes who became lifelong friends. I will be forever grateful to UNCW for the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Allen established the UNCW program in 1977-78 and it flourished. He directed the UNCW men’s and women’s teams to a combined 16 conference championships, including 13 on the men’s side and three for the women, along with a pair of Eastern titles.
Allen led the men to an impressive streak of 13 consecutive Colonial Athletic Association men’s titles from 2002-14 and also coached the women to three championships, including back-to-back crowns in 1998 and 1999, and the 1997 and 1988 ECAC titles.
Allen racked up 15 CAA Coach of the Year honors – 10 as the league’s top men’s coach and five for his success with the women’s program.
Allen swam collegiately at Springfield (Mass.) College and began his coaching career at Allegheny in 1970-71. He spent one year at Allegheny before moving on to Potsdam State (N.Y.), where he compiled a 44-26 record with the Bears.
At Potsdam, Allen’s squad captured the state championship in 1977 and was ranked No. 15 in the NCAA Division III poll. In his final two seasons in New York, Allen coached five All-Americans and was voted Coach-of-the-Year. He was inducted into Potsdam’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Allen was honored in 1987 when he was selected to represent the United States government in a five-week tour of the Mideast. He presented clinics and seminars in Turkey through the U.S. Information Service’s Sports America program.
During his successful career, Allen sent six Seahawk swimmers to the NCAA Championships and numerous student-athletes earned All-CAA honors and other major honors.
Butterflyer Sam O’Leary became the school’s first NCAA Division I All-American in 1982 and 10 years later, sprinter Dan Gallagher raced to a fourth place finish in the 50 Freestyle. Diver Dean Berman competed in the NCAA’s in 2006 and Caitlin Kirsteier (2010), Rob Anderson (2010) and Carly Tanner (2013) competed in the NCAA meet.
Allen’s student-athletes also enjoyed great success in the classroom. Eight swimmers – Steve Hewins (1990-91), Laura Doepp (1991-92), Deb Kresho (1993-94), Brendan Curl (1999-00), Tiago Barreira (2002-03), Michael Krayer (2005-06), Melissa Milstead (2006-07), and Bennett Rainey (2009-10) – were awarded the Chancellor’s Cup, the school’s highest academic honor for student-athletes.
Hewins became the first UNCW athlete to earn a CAA Post-Graduate Scholarship, while Doepp was named to the GTE-CoSIDA District III Academic All-America team.
Krayer closed out his career as one of the most decorated swimmers in the program’s history. In addition to helping the Seahawks capture four CAA titles, he was named the CAA’s Male Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Six of Allen’s swimmers have been inducted into the UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame, including inaugural class members Janet Johnson and Sam O’Leary in 1998. Other swimmers enshrined include Burak Erdem (2002), Amy Lewis (2006), Dan Gallagher (2010) and Adrienne Sutton (2014).
Allen is a member of four elite groups. He was inducted into the Potsdam State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, the North Carolina Swimming Hall of Fame in 2019 and the UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.
Allen announced his retirement on March 13, 2014, after coaching 44 years at three different institutions and stepped down officially from UNCW on June 30, 2014.
Allen and his wife, Ellen, have three children – Matt, Brian and Stephanie – who graduated from UNCW and competed on the Seahawk teams. Allen has six grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 12.
Dave Allen‘s CAA Championships
Men – 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Women – 1998, 1999, 2006
Dave Allen‘s Career Highlights
- On March 1, 2014, the men’s team wins the final relay behind Alex Labonge, Adam Salzman, Gabe Thran and Joe Gallene to edge William & Mary and keep intact a 13-year dynasty in men’s swimming and diving.
- Carly Tanner competes in the 50 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke and 100 Freestyle at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis.
- The 2010-11 men’s team pulls away on the final day of the CAA meet behind Luke Murphy and Michael Baric, who combine to score 80.5 points in the meet. Stephanie Forlenza sets a meet record in the 200 Backstroke.
- Caitlin Kersteir wins the 100-Yard Butterfly for the fourth straight year as the women’s team takes second in the 2009-10 meet. Kersteir earns the Thomas V. Moseley Award, the university’s highest athletic award and becomes the first women’s swimmer to compete in the NCAA Championships, swimming in the 50 Free and 100 Fly events.
- Rob Anderson joins Kersteir in the 2010 NCAA Championships, competing in the 50 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke events.
- Kersteir and Anderson collect CollegeSwimming.com All-America honors in 2010 for outstanding senior campaigns.
- Melissa Milstead is named CAA’s Women’s Swimming Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year for the second straight year and receives the school’s Chancellor’s Cup Award for Academic Excellence.
- Allen is named 2006 CAA Men’s and Women’s Coach-of-the-Year after guiding the Seahawks to a sweep of the league’s hardware. The men’s team, powered by 35 All-CAA performances, cruises to a 277-point victory over George Mason. The women dominate George Mason by 155.50 points behind 21 All-CAA swimmers.
- Senior diver Dean Berman is named 2006 CAA Diver-of-the-Meet and Diver-of-the-Year and becomes the first Seahawk to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Atlanta.
- Senior Michael Krayer is selected 2006 CAA Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year in swimming for the second consecutive season and is honored as the top male scholar-athlete in the conference.
- Melissa Milstead is selected 2006 CAA Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year after the team wins its first championship since 1999.
- Sprinter Dan Gallagher finishes fourth in the 50-Yard Freestyle at the 2002 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in Athens, Ga.
- The women’s team captures the 1998-99 conference title in one of the most dominating performances in the history of the meet. The Seahawks set four conference records, established 11 school records and win 11 of 20 events in building an impressive 161-point win over James Madison.
- All-time greats Janet Johnson and Sam O’Leary make up two of the five members of the inaugural class of the UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
- In 1995, Burak Erdem wins the 200-Yard Backstroke, becoming one of only two swimmers in CAA history to repeat as conference champion four straight years in an event.
- Steve Hewins becomes the first UNCW student-athlete to earn a CAA Post-Graduate Scholarship in 1991.
- The budding program signals its arrival when butterflier Sam O’Leary becomes the school’s first NCAA Division I All-American in March of 1982.