Dixie State University will be splashing on to the scene of collegiate swimming in 2016.
Athletic Director Jason Boothe announced the addition of women’s swimming in the spring. Set to begin competition in the fall of next year, the team will compete in the NCAA Division II Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference.
Boothe said the time gap was due to the need to be able to build a quality program. The building of the program started with the search for a head coach.
“He was our guy from the start,” Boothe said. “We had a couple of other prospects, but with his background at the Division I level, as well as our community, it just made sense.”
The “he” who Boothe referred to is Benjamin Rae, who was ultimately named head coach. Rae is a DSU alumnus with an extensive background in aquatic athletics, holding coaching positions at Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, and multiple high schools across the state.
Following his time in Utah, Rae coached the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta. The Dynamo was consistently one of the top programs in the region in 2011, and it won the overall Junior National Championship. Rae was subsequently named the North Atlanta Swim Association coach of the year. He then moved back to Utah, where he heads the Washington City Community Center’s aquatic program.
Rae held an informational meeting last week for prospective athletes. He said he hoped for a bigger outcome but is optimistic about the team’s future.
“Not as many girls showed up as I’d hoped,” Rae said. “But out of the ones that did, there are some that are really fast swimmers. We’re starting from scratch, so the most important thing is to be patient.”
Rae said he is also actively recruiting about 20 high school seniors who he hopes can make an immediate impact to the program.
Coming into his first year at the helm, Rae said he has high but realistic expectations.
“It’s a lot to ask to come in our first year and win,” Rae said. “But, I do think we can be competitive, and with the new Health and Wellness Center in the works, we’re in a great position to build this program.”
The team, although still in its beginning stages, is already starting to come together. Student athletes have begun meeting with advisers to be sure they are eligible to compete and make their schedules work with training. A final roster is not set but is expected to be completed by late April.
Women who are interested in joining the swim team are urged to contact Rae at [email protected] or at 435-705-4848.