The Wildcats head into BIG EAST Championship competition Wednesday.
Villanova falls to Pitt 279-74.
Wildcats defeat Pittsburgh for the first time in four years.
Nathan Lavery added into the mix for the 2012-2013 season.
During his time as head coach of the Villanova men's and women's swimming & diving programs Rick Simpson has made his mark as not only a successful coach, but also has broadened the program's recruiting horizons both nationwide and internationally. He is in his 13th year with the Wildcats in 2012-13 and has both the men's and women's teams primed for successful seasons.
In the past three years Simpson has seen the Villanova women's swimming & diving team elevate to become one of the top BIG EAST programs thanks to an influx of both local and international talent. The recent progress for the Wildcats was on full display when it counted most during the 2011-12 season when they secured a fifth place finish at the BIG EAST Championships and in 2010-11 season, as Villanova surged to a fourth-place finish in the team standings at the conference meet. During the 2010-11 conference meet, the Wildcats set six school records and tallied seven All-BIG EAST performances in six different individual events.
The 2011-12 BIG EAST Championships proved to be another tribute to the Wildcat's success under Simpson. Hayley Edwards and Roxy Tammadge dominated the 1650 freestyle, as both girls finished in top-places, giving Villanova a second-place (Edwards) and third-place title (Tammadge) in the event. Edwards also finished third in the 200 butterfly and fourth in the 500 freestyle at the conference championships. Edwards' success during the regular season and at the BIG EAST Championships qualified her to compete in three NCAA Championship races. In the relays, the 800 freestyle team consisting of Edwards, Elphick, Tammadge and Heider earned Villanova a second-place title at the conference meet.
Over the course of four days at the BIG EAST Championships in the 2010-2011 season, Erin Malone broke long-standing school records in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke, as well as the 200 individual medley. In addition Hayley Edwards repeated as the conference champion in the 1650 freestyle, giving Villanova a title in that event for the eighth time in the last 12 years.
Malone is a native of Sydney, Australia and is just a part of the success that the coaching staff has had attracting international talent to the Wildcats program. The roster for the women's team currently includes two student-athletes from South Africa (Natalie Elpick, Roxy Tammadge) and one each from Germany (Katrin Heider) and Israel (Mikah Schlesinger).
"Our recent goal has been to have the demographics of our program reflect the ever-growing global diversity of our university," Simpson said. "We are thrilled that our swimming family includes athletes from all corners of the globe."
At the same time Simpson has done a good job of attracting local talent to Villanova as well. A combined 11 members of the current men's and women's rosters are from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while the Wildcats have 8 different states represented within the program.
The men's team also has gotten steady contributions from the 2009 recruiting class and has followed up that momentum with equally strong groups of newcomers over the past three years. Villanova came in ninth place at the BIG EAST Championships in 2010, 2011, and 2012; the highest finish for the team since an eighth place standing in 2000.
Of all the success that Simpson has had at Villanova perhaps his most noteworthy achievement has been the development of the Wildcats great tradition in the distance freestyle events. That tradition has continued most recently with Hayley Edwards winning two BIG EAST titles in the 1650 free, while Jenny Somerville (2003-07) previously won the event at the conference championships all four years of her career. Somerville also qualified for the NCAA Championships three times in the 1650 free and finished as high as 22nd at the national meet.
At least one Villanova distance swimmer qualified for the NCAA Championships in eight of Simpson's first 11 years as head coach, while a Villanova swimmer has captured the BIG EAST title in the 1650 free eight times in 12 seasons.
"The distance tradition at Villanova is something that we are very proud of," Simpson said. "It is not just the documented success of our distance swimmers but the amount of hard work that our student-athletes put in on a daily basis which creates that pride. The athletes think of it as a badge of honor."
Two different women have earned All-America honors under Simpson's guidance. Maddy Crippen was an eight-time All-American for the Wildcats and Becky Koch received All-America recognition on two occasions. Crippen competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia after her freshman season and her sophomore season was Simpson's first on the Main Line. Under his watchful eye Crippen earned All-America honors as a sophomore in the 400 IM, 500 free and 200 breast, while Koch was an All-American in the 500 free in 2003 and the 400 free one year later.
Villanova swimmers have also gone on to international success during Simpson's tenure. Kristina Lennox, a 2007 graduate, competed for Puerto Rico in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China as well as the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, Italy. During the 2009 meet she set a national record in the 200 meter freestyle, breaking a mark that had stood for 18 years while winning her preliminary heat.
Following the 2010-11 collegiate season Simpson accompanied team members Roxy Tammadge and Natalie Elphick to South Africa as they competed in the South Africa Nationals. Both were chosen to represent their home country in the World University Games in Shenzhen, China and Simpson served as a member of the South African coaching staff at those games in August, 2011. During the competition both Tammadge and Elphick swam legs of the 800 meter freestyle relay which set a new South African national record.
After the World University Games, Tammadge was selected to compete at the All-Africa Games in Mozambique where she won five medals, including individual gold in the 400 meter freestyle in addition to gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x200 meter freestyle relays.
Prior to being named the Villanova head coach, Simpson spent three years at Seton Hall as the head coach of both the men's and women's teams there. During the 1999-00 season he led the Pirates men's team to a .500 record in dual meets for the first time in the history of the program. Simpson also coached Peter Economou to a BIG EAST title in the 100 butterfly in 2000, making him the first Pirate in seven years to win a league championship.
Seton Hall had its best season on the women's side in 1998-99 when the squad registered an 8-6 record in dual meets. Overall during Simpson's three-year tenure as head coach nearly every one of the Pirates school records was broken in both the swimming & diving events.
Simpson graduated from Rutgers in 1990 and spent three years as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater. During that stint, Simpson was an assistant coach in 1992 for Team Foxcatcher, where he assisted in the training of four Olympians while also coaching Team Foxcatcher at the 1992 National Championships in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Simpson received his first international coaching experience as a member of the USA coaching staff at the Second Military World Games in Zagreb, Croatia in 1999. The team he coached consisted of several current and former world record holders and Olympians.
In the fall of 1992 Simpson became an assistant coach for the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his primary responsibilities included seving as the recruiting coordinator and the coach for all sprint and middle distance swimming events. After one year he returned to Rutgers as a full-time assistant coach and the Scarlet Knights recruiting coordinator, a position he held until being named the interim head coach in 1996.
During his time as head coach of the Seton Hall programs Simpson served as the founder and executive director of Varsity Swim Camp, Inc., and as founder and head coach of the Seton Hall Aquatics Club. He is currently the director of Wildcat Swim Camp at Villanova, which offers a number of programs on campus each summer.
Simpson graduated from Rutgers in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Land Use Planning. He currently resides in West Chester, Pa. with his wife, Tara, and daughters Madeline and Megan. p>