Few people at Hampden-Sydney College are as excited about the announcement of a swim team as Ke Shang ’13. The longtime swimmer says he dreamt of starting a swim team, even as he waited in his native China to matriculate as a freshman. The announcement on October 28 (pictured above) was his dream come true.
Fourteen student-athletes joined President Christopher Howard, Athletic Director Richard Epperson ’79, and Head Swim Coach Betsy Prengaman at Leggett Pool for the public announcement. This winter, the Tigers began limited competition as an official NCAA Division III swim team. Mr. Epperson says, “We are confident that this program will immediately enhance our institutional retention and recruitment objectives for current and prospective student-athletes.”
Coach Prengaman is already an established figure on campus. She serves as the head cross country coach and the assistant fitness director. She also coaches cross country, track and field, and swimming at local Fuqua School. “This is an exciting addition to the College, and I am honored to be a part of it,” says Coach Prengaman. “I have full confidence in these athletes in this undertaking, and I know they will make us all proud as representatives of Hampden-Sydney.”
Swimmers from all four classes have been training and competing as a club sport for some time. Shang says they are eager to face NCAA-level competition, especially archrival Randolph-Macon College. He told The Tiger newspaper: “There are myriad ways to kill a bug; it’s time for the Tigers to drown the stinky Yellow Jacket!”
Senior Josh Hamilton (at left) appeared on The Morning Swim Show via Skype and discussed getting back into shape for competition, how the students transitioned their swimming club into a full-fledged NCAA team, and performed respectably at their first meet. He gave particular credit to Shang for pushing the administration to create the team. Although this his final year as a student, Hamilton added, “I’m just happy to be a part of the founding of it, helping these guys start something for future generations.”
The regular swimming practices bring new life to Leggett Pool, which opened for the first time in January 1980. Although Hampden-Sydney has intermittently fielded both varsity and club water polo teams, the swim team is the first NCAA sport to use the facility. The athletic department recently completed a comprehensive renovation of Leggett Pool, which included a new pool surface. After additional equipment is purchased and installed, particularly an official timekeeping clock, the team will be able to host competition.
“The team and I appreciate all of the support that we have already received from our campus, the local community, area colleges, and some knowledgeable and helpful professionals in the national swimming associations,” Prengaman added. “I look forward to coaching our brand new swim team to an outstanding season and many more to come. Go Tigers!”