Swimming and Diving Head Swimming Coach
One needs only to glance at the accomplishments of the teams and student-athletes he has worked with to see how successful Bailey Weathers has been over his 26-year career as a swimming and diving coach. After working with over 20 Olympians and two NCAA national championship teams as an assistant, he has seen all 14 teams of which he has been the head coach qualify for and score points in the NCAA Championships. Those squads have claimed 12 conference titles and finished in the top 25 at the NCAAs on nine occasions, including a fifth-place result in 1986 and five others in the top 20.
In his years as a head collegiate coach, Weathers, a nine-time conference coach of the year and the 1986 NCAA National Coach of the Year, has turned out 23 All-Americans, while 20 more student-athletes have been honorable mention All-America. In all, 43 of his 49 NCAA qualifiers have gone on to score points in the meet, with Weathers[apos] protégés having scored in every event but one at the NCAAs.
The Weathers era at Notre Dame has seen 16 different athletes combine for 56 All-America citations – an average of more than six per year – and 22 earn a total of 41 invitations to the NCAA Championships (an average of over four per year). He has had swimmers and divers qualify for the NCAAs in every event but one (800 free relay) while leading the Irish. In 2002, a record nine Irish athletes were invited.
Perhaps the most impressive facet of Notre Dame[apos]s success over the past nine years has been its utter dominance of the BIG EAST Championships. Following a third-place finish in 1996, the Irish have been perfect, winning eight consecutive titles, each by more than 110 points. That streak is tied for the fourth-longest ever by any BIG EAST school in any sport, and Weathers stands as one of only five coaches – in any sport – to have led his team to eight or more BIG EAST titles in a row, a group that includes such names as Connecticut women[apos]s basketball coaching legend Geno Auriemma. Since 1995-96 (when Notre Dame became a league member), Notre Dame[apos]s women[apos]s swimming and diving team shares the distinction of the most BIG EAST titles by any squad in any sport with the Pittsburgh men[apos]s swimming and diving team.
In all, Irish student-athletes have claimed 70 first-place finishes in the BIG EAST Championships, an average of nearly eight per year. After winning [quote]only[quote] three events in 1996, Notre Dame has claimed at least six titles – including at least one relay – in each subsequent season. The highlight was the 2000 meet, when the Irish won 14 of 20 events and set five meet records en route to a total of 829.5 points, which was nearly 400 ahead of the runner-up. Notre Dame also has broken BIG EAST Championships records on 23 occasions – at least once every year – and has three times featured the meet[apos]s Most Outstanding Swimmer: Linda Gallo in 1998, Carrie Nixon in 2000, and Katie Carroll in `04. In addition, Meghan Perry-Eaton was tabbed the event[apos]s Most Oustanding Diver in 2003 and [apos]04. A total of 30 different Irish student-athletes have become BIG EAST champions under Weathers, while 45 have earned all-conference accolades.
His accomplishments have not gone unnoticed by his peers, as Weathers has five times been tabbed the BIG EAST Coach of the Year to bring his career total of such league honors to nine.
Weathers took over a program that had seen just two swimmers qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships and had never finished higher than 30th at the NCAAs. He has made it a perennial participant and factor in the national championships, scoring points every year and posting five top-25 results. In 2000, the Irish turned in their best-ever performance in the meet, scoring 74.5 points to take 18th, while the [apos]02 squad finished 19th with 52 points.
The Irish record book is hardly recognizable from before his reign, as only four total times from prior to his arrival on campus remain in the list of the top 10 swims in Notre Dame history. Every school record has been broken on numerous occasions.
A major contribution of Weathers to the program has been raising the level of talent of Notre Dame women[apos]s swimming and diving. Among the top standouts he has groomed are Nixon (who returned to her alma mater in 2004 to become an assistant under her former coach), backstroker Kelly Hecking, breaststroker Shannon Suddarth, and divers Heather Mattingly and Meghan Perry-Eaton.
Among Nixon[apos]s accomplishments during her time as a swimmer (1997-2002) were setting the NCAA Championships record in the 50-meter freestyle in 2000 (24.99), earning All-America accolades 12 times (in six different events), and delivering a perfect meet at the 2000 BIG EAST Championships, when she won all seven of her races. She still stands as easily the most-prolific sprinter in Notre Dame history, boasting all of the top 10 times ever in the 50 free and each of the top nine in the 100 free. Nixon also was an 18-time BIG EAST champion and a 24-time all-BIG EAST honoree.
Hecking, also a 2002 graduate, holds the distinction of being the most decorated Notre Dame athlete ever in BIG EAST competition in any sport. She finished her career with a record 19 conference championship, with seven coming in individual action (including the 100 backstroke in all four of her collegiate seasons). She was 23 times tabbed all-league, and Hecking also was eight times named honorable mention All-America.
Suddarth was nine times cited with All-America accolades, and she stands as easily the top breaststroker in Notre Dame history, still boasting all of the top nine times in the 200-yard race, as well as seven of the top 10 in the 100 despite graduating in 2000. She won eight BIG EAST titles and was named all-BIG EAST 10 times in 12 career individual races, an Irish record.
Mattingly and Perry-Eaton combine to hold nearly every spot on the list of top Notre Dame diving performances, having combined for seven All-America honors. The former, a 2002 graduate, garnered an invitation to the NCAA Championships during each of her four seasons, while the latter – a current fifth-year senior – turned in the best-ever finish by a Notre Dame athlete in the meet in 2004, taking third in one-meter action and ending just 3.30 points behind the national champ. In [apos]03, Perry-Eaton became the first non-University of Miami diver since 1995 to claim a BIG EAST title (one-meter) before sweeping both boards by more than 40 points the following year.
Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in dual-meet action under Weathers, as the Irish have posted two undefeated campaigns (10-0 in 1999-2000, 10-0 in 2001-02) and lost just once in three other seasons. Overall, Notre Dame holds an 80-17-1 (.821) record, including a 47-4 (.922) mark since 1999-2000.
The Irish have been well-represented in the College Swim Coaches Association (CSCAA) National Dual-Meet Poll since its recent inception, peaking at 10th in 1999-2000 and cracking the top 15 in 2001-02 (season-high 13th) and 2002-03 (14th).
Weathers[apos] athletes also have excelled in the classroom as he boasts seven CSCAA Academic All-Americans, as well as 11 more honorable mention Academic All-America accolades. In 2002, current seniors Kelli Barton and Kristen Peterson gained the distinction after Barton ranked ninth in the nation with a 3.91 grade-point average and Peterson was 16th with a 3.87 GPA.
Weathers[apos] impressive coaching tenure has spanned more than 25 seasons. The 1986 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year while at Southern Illinois, Weathers has coached 29 Olympians and was an assistant coach for a pair of NCAA championship teams at Texas (1984 and [apos]85).
In 1995-96, Weathers returned to college coaching after a five-year stint as the head coach of the highly successful Mission Aurora (Colorado) Swimming Club. During his tenure as head coach, the Mission Aurora club produced more senior and junior national qualifiers than at any other time in its history.
Weathers[apos] first collegiate stint as a head coach came with Southern Illinois from 1985-87. With the Salukis, his teams finished fifth at the NCAA Championships in 1986 and 18th in `87. During Weathers[apos] two seasons, Southern Illinois produced nine All-Americans.
Following his time at SIU, Weathers became the head coach at South Carolina, a position he would hold for three seasons, earning Metro Conference coach-of-the-year honors each year. Under his direction, the Gamecocks posted 10th-, 12th-, and 21st-place finishes at the NCAA Championships, and nine swimmers were All-Americans.
Prior to his head coaching days, Weathers served as the women[apos]s assistant at national power Texas from 1982-85 and assisted with the swimming program at his alma mater, Indiana University, from 1979-82.
Born April 29, 1958, Weathers graduated magna cum laude from Indiana in 1982 with a bachelor[apos]s of science degree in physical education before earning a master[apos]s degree from Texas in 1984.
He and his wife, Susan, are the parents of two daughters — Christina (18) and Elizabeth (15) — and a son, Timothy (11).
What Weathers[apos] teams have done …
All 14 have scored points in NCAA Championships
12 conference championships (8 BIG EAST, 3 Metro, 1 Gateway)
Eight consecutive BIG EAST championships by more than 100 points
Two undefeated seasons (1999-2000, 2001-02)
Fifth-place finish in 1986 NCAA Championships
Two top-10 finishes in NCAA Championships
Six top-20 finishes in NCAA Championships
10 top-25 finishes in NCAA Championships
Seven seasons with two or fewer dual-meet losses
Four National Independent Conference championships
Two NCAA national championship teams as an assistant (1984, [apos]85)
What awards/distinctions he owns …
1986 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year
Nine-time conference coach of the year (5 BIG EAST, 3 Metro, 1 Gateway)
Two-time U.S. National Team head coach (1991)
U.S.A. Swimming Olympic Development Camp head coach (1995)
What his student-athletes have done …
29 have competed in the Olympics
23 different student-athletes have been All-Americans;
20 more have been honorable mention All-America
ND student-athletes have combined for 65 All-America citations
(more than seven per year)
Finished first in the BIG EAST Championships 70 times (nearly eight per year)
43 of 49 NCAA qualifiers have scored points in the meet
Broke 23 BIG EAST Championships records (at least one every year at ND)
Set NCAA Championships record in 50-meter freestyle
Named BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Swimmer three times
Named BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Diver twice
Scored at the NCAA Championships in every event but one
Broke every Notre Dame record multiple times
Posted at least all of the seven fastest times in Irish history in every event
Gained CSCAA Academic All-America honors 32 times
Earned over 30 invitations to U.S. Olympic Trials
Reached two finals in Olympics