Courtesy: NJAC Sports
WAYNE, NJ — William Paterson head swimming and diving coach Ed Gurka reached the 800-career win milestone on Saturday, Oct. 22, when the Pioneer women won their dual meet 103-71 over Western Connecticut State.
Gurka, in his 47th year in Wayne, now owns 800 combined career wins between the Pioneers’ men’s and women’s squads. His record now stands at 800-426-3. His men’s record is currently 383-215 and women’s record is 417-211-3.
Now in his 47th season as William Paterson’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving head coach, Gurka is one of the most accomplished mentors in the sport. He earned his 400th victory as the Pioneer women’s coach on Nov. 12, 2019, against Purchase, his 300th win as the men’s coach on Dec. 4, 2012, against Maritime, and his 700th overall victory on Oct. 19, 2016, against Old Westbury.
Making history is nothing new to Gurka. In 1989, he became the first swim coach in NCAA (all Divisions) history to win 100 meets as coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at one school.
Gurka has coached 16 All-Americans, the most recent being seven-time honoree Kristin Clegg, who set school records in the 100 IM, 50-, 100- and 200-yard backstrokes (2002-06). Joe Gentile was one of the all-time Pioneer greats on the men’s side, winning five national championships (including two then-Division III records) in the 1980s en route to being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Male Student-Athlete of the 1980s. Among his many accomplishments, Gentile also has the distinction of being the first swimmer to win the 50-, 100- and 200-free events at a single NCAA Championships.
Gentile is one of 11 swimmers Gurka coached who have earned entry into the William Paterson University Alumni Association Athletic Hall of Fame. The other nine are Brian Lavin (’89), Tonya Shipp Bradshaw (’91), Connie Wassberg (’92), Melissa Bedford-Gutekunst (’93), Laurie Gazdalski Genna (’96), Rebecca Schirrman Gruver (’02), Kristin Clegg-Bell (’06), James Crowder (’99), Sheri Glenn Wachenheim (’93) and Voyteck Karas (’10).
A three-time all-state swimmer at Wayne Valley High School, Gurka earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education while competing in the butterfly and individual medley at the University of Maryland. He and his wife, Janet, have three children: sons Eddie and Brian, and daughter Lauren. Eddie was a swimmer at Marist College, and Brian competed at RPI.