Earlier this fall, Mike Ginder was named the first head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming team at Virginia Wesleyan College. With the addition of the swimming program, set to begin next fall of 2017, the Marlins will have a total of 22 intercollegiate athletic programs.
Most recently, Ginder has been the assistant swim coach for the last three years at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Before working at Bucknell, Ginder coached at Catholic University and Georgetown University. He knows that coaching for a school that has never had a swim team before will be a much different experience than his prior coaching positions.
“Without any alumni or a current team in place, you don’t have the history, you don’t have the network that most programs have,” Ginder said. “But with a new program, the new swimmers and myself will be the founding members. We as a group get to decide where the culture goes, and we get a blank slate.”
For his first year as the head coach, Ginder hopes to bring in 12 men and 12 women for the swim team, which will compete in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) right away. In the long-term future, Ginder hopes to be competitive with the top teams in the league.
“It will be a smaller team at first, but I think we can get a good sized group to be successful at dual meets and in the ODAC,” said Ginder. “Swimming is an individual sport and each player can swim for an impact. For any of these players it’s a great way for athletes to continue their swim careers in a liberal arts college and urban area.”
Ginder has been passionate about Division III athletics for many years now. He is confident that the addition of the swim program will be positive for the Virginia Wesleyan College campus community.
“Division III has a great atmosphere for athletics. Being that as my background I want to support it and help out as much as I can. [The swim team] will bring in 24 new student athletes. It brings in new personalities and more diversity geographically,” Ginder said.
Beginning a head coaching position in the middle of a school year is a challenge, Ginder admits, but he is excited to get started on recruiting and building the program.
“It’s in the middle of November, and a lot of swimmers have already been in touch with coaches and formed relationships. I have some work to do since I am a few months behind, but there are a lot of talented swimmers in the Hampton Roads area [to recruit],” Ginder said.
Ginder’s history with swimming goes back to his childhood, where he was surrounded by the sport constantly, as both of his parents swam. He was a former standout for Washington and Lee University, where he was a team captain and a 16-time NCAA All-American. In the years following his graduation in 2007, Ginder stayed with the General’s swim program, working on the coaching staff from 2007 to 2010. The experience he had swimming in college is a large reason why Ginder decided to get into coaching.
“Because of my teammates and coach, I had an amazing four years both personally and for my swimming career. Everyone should have a chance to improve but also be on a team and form relationships. I am trying to give that experience back to student athletes,” Ginder said.
(Photo: Department of Sports Info|Courtesy)