The Terriers sweep the conference title for the first time since 1994
Bill Smyth enters his 11th season as head coach of the Boston University swimming and diving program in the 2015-16 season. The veteran coach looks to improve upon his success in the Patriot League after leading both the men's and women's programs to third-place finishes in 2014 and 2015 behind swimming powerhouses Navy, Bucknell and Army.
Last season BU had four individual champions at the Patriot League tournament, matching its performance from 2014, and claimed two performer of the meet accolades. Freshman Lizzie Tillo was named the Women's Diver of the Meet while Connor Stuewe earned Men's Swimmer of the Meet recognition.
In the program's first year in the Patriot League, Stephanie Nasson burst on to the scene as the conference's best distance freestyle swimmer, winning the 1650 freestyle and setting a league record, which she went on to beat at the NCAA Championships. Nasson was the first women's swimmer to earn a bid to the NCAAs under the direction of Smyth and BU's first female swimmer to reach the national meet since Abigail Clark qualified in 2000.
Smyth led the Terriers to impressive gains in the final years in the America East including women's titles in 2009 and 20010 and a sweep of the conference in 2012. In 2013, Smyth led both squads to ECAC Championships in lieu of the America East Meet, which the squads were not eligible for due to the move to the Patriot League.
Since his arrival at BU, Smyth's athletes have won 116 individual conference crowns. In addition, Smyth owns a combined .746 dual meet win percentage across the men's and women's teams through his first 10 seasons. Every men's and all but one women's school record has been reset at least once throughout his tenure. Smyth is a four-time America East Coach of the Year on the men's side and in 2008 he swept the awards by claiming it on the women's side.
In Smyth's first season with the Terriers (2005-06), 95 percent of the men's team swam at least one lifetime best and over 77 percent of the women's team did as well, while the Terriers boasted three individual conference champions. That same year, Smyth led the BU women to a third-place finish at the America East Championship, which the Terriers hosted in their new aquatic center. The Terrier men finished fourth and were paced by senior Mike Kelly, who won the Coaches' Award for highest career point total.
All told, 18 women scored at the conference meet (seven more than the previous year) and 19 men scored (five more than 2005). Lidija Breznikar went on to break three school records and one conference mark, while Christina Ruggiero swam the second-fastest 1000 free time in school history.
With Smyth at the helm, the team continued to grow and enjoy more and more success. In the 2008-09 season Smyth brought the program to a new level as the women's squad won its first America East Championship in 14 years, dethroning two-time conference champion UMBC. Tess Waresmith earned Diver of the Meet accolades while Eve Kinsella garnered the Coaches' Award, which honors a graduating senior for accumulating the most points over four years at the conference championship. On the men's side, Andre Watson was named the Diver of the Meet and Matt Rickett earned Swimmer of the Meet recognition and both went on to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Rickett was the first BU male swimmer to qualify in 27 years.
In 2012, Smyth led the Terriers to a sweep of the conference championship for the first time since 1994. Freshman Connor Stuewe was named Rookie of the Meet while junior Melinda Matyas captured her third straight Diver of the Meet award.
Smyth, who is credited with the outstanding development of UVA's men's and women's swimming programs as the Cavaliers' assistant coach from 1997-05, was named head coach of BU's programs on May 24, 2005. A five-time All-American swimmer for the Cavaliers, Smyth coached Virginia's distance and IM swimmers and was heavily involved in recruiting.
During the 2004-05 season, the Virginia men's team won its seventh straight Atlantic Coast Conference title and finished 13th overall at the NCAAs. Two of the swimmers Smyth coached earned First Team All-American honors: Pat Mellors, who took fifth in the 400 IM and John Millen, who placed sixth in the 1650 freestyle.
In addition, the women's team was second at the ACC meet after winning the team title the previous two years. At the 2004 NCAAs, Smyth coached three men and three women to top-10 finishes in the 1650 freestyle.
A 1994 Virginia graduate with a degree in psychology, Smyth specialized in the 400 IM. In addition to his five All-American recognitions, he won six ACC individual titles, including four in the 400 IM. Smyth set the school and ACC records in the 400 IM in 1994 with a time of 3:47.98, which stood until the 2002 ACC Championships. Smyth was selected to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Swimming and Diving Team in August of 2002. He was a finalist at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 IM, placing fifth, and was also a finalist at USA National meets on several occasions. Smyth also boasts international coaching experience, as he served as an assistant coach for the Macedonian Olympic team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
A native of Norristown, Pa., Smyth has served as an assistant coach for some of the top club teams in the nation since his graduation from UVA. He spent time with the Jersey Wahoos and the Phoenix Swim Club, each of which sent swimmers to the 1996 Summer Olympics.