Stefan Liotchev COMM: Sports Reporting Dr.

Barrows Jeff Dugdale Profile

It is 6:30 A.M. on a weekday morning, most of us are still in a dead sleep, some of us are just struggling to get out of bed, but not Jeff Dugdale. Dugdale, coach of the inaugural men’s and women’s swim teams at Queens University of Charlotte is wide awake coaching his swimmers. He always has a smile and tries to keep the mood up by saying his one-liners. Dugdale is one of the most extroverted people you will ever meet. Dugdale and swimming trace down their roots to his childhood in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he was born. Dugdale swam through his early childhood and made it to Auburn University where he was coached under the great David Marsh. Marsh has coached Auburn to seven men’s national titles and five on the women’s side making for a total of twelve; he has also coached 22 Olympians. “It was an honor [to train under Marsh]” said Dugdale. Dugdale was a 100/200 yd. back stroker and 200/400 yd. IMer. Dugdale’s and Marsh’s relationship would go on to become a close one, however they both became better known for what they did together outside of the pool. Dugdale was called into Marsh’s office one day during his junior year. Marsh forced Dugdale into a tough decision. Marsh allowed Dugdale to continue swimming; however he felt

that Dugdale would better contribute to the team by becoming a coach. “It felt natural to leave the sport [as an athlete]” said Dugdale. That was a decision that Dugdale does not regret. While at Auburn, Dugdale met his current wife Amy with whom they have two children. Dugdale had to give up coaching to find a higher paying job when he and Amy had children. Dugdale and his family moved to Durham, NC where he spent twelve years (1997-2009) working at Glaxo Smith Kline. Dugdale was not entirely removed from swimming; he served as a recruiting consultant to Auburn, Duke, UNC, NC State, and a handful of other schools. Duke actually hired Dugdale as an assistant coach in 2008. He had a wife, two children, a very good salary, and lifestyle, however there was one thing missing from his life, coaching. Dugdale has always had a dream of starting a professional swim club. In 2009 David Marsh was looking to start such a team in Charlotte and he reached out to Dugdale to partner with him. At first Dugdale declined, the pay cut and risking the well being of his children was not worth it. Amy Dugdale made him change his mind. She told him that if he tells her and the children to live their dreams, however if he isn’t willing to live his dreams, then how are they going to follow suit. The Dugdales relocated from Durham, a two hour drive westward along the I-85 to Charlotte, NC. Swim Mac Carolina was the name of the team run by Marsh and Dugdale. Swim Mac was able to attract Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, a member of the 4X100m freestyle relay team along with Michael Phelps that won gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and made the second place French team cry. Other Olympians followed suit and found their way to Swim Mac. With this kind of talent to work around, this made Marsh and Dugdale a hot commodity to come by.

In December 2009 Queens University president Pamela Davies approached Marsh and Dugdale about teaming up to start a swim team at the university. Both men were on board with the idea under one condition; Queens builds a modern training facility. Davies promised that with the Levine Center that begins construction January 1, 2012. At first the assumption was that the team would start up in two or three years. Both men were very wrong, Davies wanted the team to start up in the fall of 2010 with an announcement coming in the spring. This was a very ambitious project to take up, but both Marsh and Dugdale liked Davies’ vision and immediately started doing work. The first step in building the team was to find a head coach. Marsh and Dugdale gave Queens’ athletic director, Jeannie King a list of possible candidates. Dugdale was not the first candidate. Dugdale’s extroverted personality and strong desire to coach came out and really impressed King. “[He is] amazing” said King. In April of 2010 Dugdale was hired. Dugdale now had to become acclimated to the school and how things work. He went on four tours given by admissions to learn about the vision of the university, the goals, what majors, and everything else that is offered by the university so he could sell it to recruits. He had to take a test to become an officially certified Division II coach. Next, Dugdale had to hire an assistant coach. Mallory Pucci a former swimmer and coach at Clemson landed the job. “One of my goals was to start my own program one day, so being part of building the Queens program was the perfect learning opportunity and next step in my coaching career”, said Pucci who went on to add “[I] saw an amazing opportunity about to take place for the swimming community in Charlotte.”

Now at this point it was mid June, about four months after national signing day, time to recruit a team in a 10 week period. If anyone has been a college head coach you know how difficult it is to recruit athletes to your team, well, try doing it in a fraction of that time. It is not an easy task. Dugdale was interested in committed swimmers to come on board. He contacted them, but made them show him that they really wanted to come to school because he wants to keep them for all four years. While Dugdale did end up recruiting transfers from big time Division I schools Purdue and Auburn, Dugdale is looking to only recruit true freshmen in the future. Austin Hughey, a sophomore who specializes in Freestyle and backstroke was one of those transfer recruits, coming to Queens from Auburn. Dugdale’s training has been one of high intensity and well beyond his expectations coming into the program. Hughey’s endurance and speed have greatly increased over this first year, both crucial components in swimming. Kelsey Smith, a 24 year old graduate student who specializes in IM and breaststroke. She previously swam at nearby Davidson College and came to Queens because of a bad experience while at Davidson where the coach forced her to quit swimming. Dugdale has helped give her a second opportunity and she has responded well. Nick Creidler, a freshman from Durham, NC who specializes in distance freestyle was motivated to come to a first year team and that coming to Charlotte was good because more people in the swimming community are becoming aware of what the city is producing. In their first year of existence, Queens has already sent two swimmers, one male, and one female to the NCAA Division II National Championships. Jeremy Gregory, a senior transfer from Auburn placed third in the 200 yd. IM, sixth in the 100 yd. freestyle, and third in the 200 yd. butterfly giving Queens the overall 21st spot in the final men’s standings. Caitlin Seed, a

graduate student who previously swam at Clemson placed seventh in the 100 yd. backstroke, and 14th in the 100 yd. freestyle giving Queens the overall 30th spot in the final women’s standings. These results are simply astonishing for a first year program, most other teams are just happy to find enough swimmers to field a team their first year, let alone have two qualify for the national championships. Dugdale already has high expectations for next year, men in the top 10 and the women in the top 20 at nationals, anything less would be a real disappointment. Next Year’s team looks to be even more impressive as many talented recruits have signed on to swim for the program. “If you want to do something, try it.” Says Dugdale, anything is possible if you put your will and mind to it.