MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Athletic Director Tom Visker is pleased to announce that Bethel College will offer men’s and women’s swimming and diving as varsity programs for the 2018-19 academic year. The addition of swimming & diving, as well as bowling announced earlier this summer, will bring Bethel to a total of 23 varsity programs competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and 29 intercollegiate teams total. The Pilots most recently added competitive cheer during the 2016-17 academic year.
“Northern Indiana and the surrounding states have many great swimming and diving programs in the high school and club circuit. We are excited to be one of only a few small colleges offering swimming and diving programs in this region,” noted Visker. “I’m confident we can build a competitive program while providing many more student-athletes a quality, faith-based education.”
The Pilots will join Indiana Wesleyan as the only Crossroads League schools to offer the NAIA championship-sponsored sport. The swimming & diving program will make their home venue the brand-new Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics, and Community Center in Elkhart and will begin recruiting and filling the roster immediately before officially competing in 2019-20. Student-athletes interested in competing in men’s and women’s swimming & diving at Bethel can complete and submit a prospective student-athlete questionnaire.
Additionally, Visker has tabbed Deb Thompson as the first head coach in men’s and women’s swimming & diving program history at Bethel.
Thompson comes to the Pilots with 27 years of combined experience coaching swimming & diving, including 16 years at the collegiate level with stops at Oberlin (Ohio), Washington & Lee (Va.), Drexel (Pa.), SUNY Geneseo (N.Y.), and UW Whitewater (Wis.). Thompson’s team won 11 conference titles at SUNY Geneseo. She coached a total of 50 All-Americans and was named a Coach of the Year six times.
For the past 11 years, Thompson has held the position of the Physical Education and Health Teacher at St. Joseph High School in South Bend, where she was also the Department Chair. Thompson has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Kinesiology Department at Bethel since 2011.
“We are very grateful to find such an experienced and successful head coach for our swimming and diving program right here in Michiana,” observed Visker. “Deb is a great fit for our department and the college. I look forward to seeing the positive athletic, academic, and spiritual impact she will have on our swimmers and divers.”
After a stellar swimming career at Penn High School where she won two IHSAA state titles and set a state record, Thompson swam collegiately at Purdue University (Ind.) and was a member of two school record-setting relay teams and participated in the NCAA national championships.
Thompson holds a Masters in Sports Administration from Kent State (Ohio), during which time she served an internship with the NAIA as an Assistant Meet Director for the NAIA National Championship. The Osceola-native is a member of the Indiana High School Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame as the first female to break the 2:00.00 barrier in the 200-yard free in IHSAA history.
“I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to work at Bethel College and start the men’s and women’s swimming and diving team,” described Thompson. “I look forward to seeing where God takes us on this new adventure.”
For the latest information on each of Bethel College’s 29 intercollegiate athletic teams, visit BethelCollegePilots.com or follow the Pilots on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @BethelPilots or on YouTube at /BethelSportsNetwork.