WHEELING - The Wheeling Jesuit University men's and women's swim team has seen a lot of success over the years. New coach Mike Meyers wants to make sure that success continues.
"There's been a good tradition of hard work and dedication here," Meyers said. "This particular team really impressed me when I looked at the results of their conference meet and what they were able to do. They're very self motivated, very dedicated and just a nice group of kids. I'm really happy to be associated with them."
Last year the men's team easily captured their third-straight Appalachian Swimming and Diving Conference Championship while the women's team also took the conference crown after back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011.
"I want to take it to the next level," Meyers said. "The school has had tremendous success in the past. They were national champions a few years ago. I think we can attract the caliber of athlete that we need to get to the (NCAA) Division II nationals. Eventually within three years we can score. It's one thing to get to the meet, but it's another thing to get on the podium."
Meyers is well aware of what it takes to get to the top of the podium. A 1974 graduate from West Liberty, he was named National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American in 13 events, WVIAC All-Conference in 16 events and still holds records for 10 events.
Not only does Meyers want his swimmers to excel in the pool, but in the classroom as well.
"The primary goal is we'd like to make the NCAA Academic All-American team. The entire team has to perform in the classroom in order to get this honor. Everybody gets a really nice All-American certificate. You have to pull a 3.2 cumulative GPA for the whole team. It's always been a goal of mine, even at Chatham (University). It's going to be a goal of mine here. At the end of the day the kids are here to get a degree. Swimming is the fun part."
Meyers started the women's swimming program at Chatham University, and his team earned Academic All-American honors for five consecutive years. He also developed the university's water polo program, which hit the books as much as they did the pool. The water polo team achieved the highest team grade point average in the nation, spanning all three NCAA Divisions.
Meyers would also be opened to create a water polo program at WJU, but doesn't think the facility is quite right.
"I think we're too shallow," he said. "We're only four feet deep here. If it were six foot the whole way it'd be a great opportunity. It really isn't wide enough either. We'll see. If there is interest and if (WJU Athletic Director) Danny (Sancomb) has an interest we can always look at it. But I don't think the pool is the right pool."
For now though, Meyers is pleased to be where he's at.
"I'm very happy to be here. I like the direction that President Byers has taken the university. He's paid a lot of attention to the athletes and the athletic coaches. He's very interested. I also like the mission of the school. It fits in with my own set of values.
"The kids have been tremendous. They've welcomed me into their little family. We'll see how it goes. I'm sure we're going to get along great. We're all on the same page and are heading in the right direction."