Long-time swimming coach Casey Converse is retiring after 29 years at the Academy
The former Olympian and NCAA record holder will serve as an awards presenter for the 1650 free
Miller makes Mountain West history, winning the 500 free and 1650 free for the fourth straight year
Men host Grand Canyon while women host both Grand Canyon and Denver
Casey Converse begins his 31st year of coaching college swimming and his 28th at the Air Force Academy in 2015-16. With an overall dual meet record of 305-202-2 at Air Force, Converse is the winningest swim coach in Academy history.
As impressive as his record is in the pool, Converse’s teams have been equally extraordinary in the classroom. He has coached a total of 69 athletes that have earned academic all-conference honors 123 times, leading all Academy teams in this category.
Three Falcons were named to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar-Athlete All-American team in June 2015. Genevieve Miller, the team MVP and an NCAA Championships national qualifier was named the first team. Kimberly Davis and Sara Menke were both named honorable mention.
In 2014-15, the Falcons finished 7-8 overall and place sixth at the Mountain West Conference championships with 281 points. The team set seven new school records and posted 26 top 10 swims. Sophomore Genevieve Miller won two conference titles, 500 free and 1650 free, and set new conference records in both events. Her time in the 1650 was also a new MW championship record. She competed in both the 500 free and 1650 free at the NCAA Championships.
The Falcons posted an amazing 17-3 overall record in 2013-14. Air Force placed sixth at the MW Championships with 292 points. The team set 12 school records and had 29 swims that crack the all-time top 10. Freshman Genevieve Miller was the MW Champion in the 500 and 1650 yard freestyle events, becoming Air Force’s first two-time conference champion. Miller set six school records (200, 500, 1000, 1650 free, 400 & 800 free relay) and became the first Falcon women’s swimmer to compete at the NCAA Championships since 1997.
In 2012-13, Air Force was 10-5 in dual meets, set 14 school records and posted 33 swims that cracked the top-10 list. Sophomore Kim Davis continued to rewrite the record books, setting five individual and seven overall records.
Air Force had one of its strongest seasons in 2011-12, going 13-3 in head-to-head competition, the most wins since 2005. The Falcons' winning percentage of .813 was the best at the Academy since 1998. Air Force set six school records and had 17 school top 10 swims. In addition, freshman Kim Davis, who set three school records on her own, became the first Falcon women's swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Trials, doing so in the 200 meter breaststroke.
"I am grateful for the successes we have achieved as a team here at the Academy," said Converse. "Anyone who knows anything about our program over the past 20 years knows that the credit for all the victories we have enjoyed goes to the tremendously dedicated officer-coaches and cadet-athletes. On a personal level, I am struck by what a privilege it is to work at the Academy and to be a part of the history of this great institution."
Converse continued, "I am fortunate to have been acquainted with two of the `founding fathers' of the swim program at the Academy. Bob Nugent and Paul Arata both wore many hats during their time as officer-head coaches, but both expressed their passion and best memories in terms of their coaching opportunities. As the first full-time civilian head coach, I feel fortunate to be able to devote the largest part of my energies to building the swimming and diving programs. This is a luxury that former officer-coaches did not have."
After guiding the men's and women's swimming programs for 10 years, Converse is in his 15th season coaching only the women and his 26th season overall at the Academy. Converse has built an outstanding program with both teams over the last two decades. Over the past few seasons, Converse has more than met the challenge of transforming the women's squad from a dominant Division II program to a respected member of the Mountain West Conference.
For eight seasons (1989-96), Converse directed the women to an outstanding 73-21 record at the Division II level. The Falcons were dominant in the Division II ranks, winning five conference championships (Continental Divide and Pacific Collegiate) and two national championships (1995 and 1996). Additionally, the women finished in the top 10 nationally five times.
Individually, Converse has coached 32 different athletes who have earned first-team All-America honors a total of 178 times. He has also guided six athletes to 13 national titles, four relay teams to national titles (including the 1996 400-medley relay team that established an NCAA Division II record), 10 swimmers to Western Athletic Conference titles and two Mountain West Conference champions.
In 1998, Connie Cann became the second Falcon to compete in the NCAA Division I Women's Championships. Under Converse's guidance, Cann finished fifth in the WAC Championships in the 100 butterfly before going on to finish 21st in that event at the NCAA Championships.
No stranger to national acclaim, Converse has earned coach of the year honors a total of five times at either the NCAA Division II level, the WAC or the Pacific Collegiate Swimming & Diving Conference.
Prior to arriving at the Academy, Converse guided the swimming program at New Mexico State. His three-year tenure may have been short, but the Aggies benefited from Converse's knowledge. The women achieved their first winning season in a decade as they went 6-5 in 1988 while the men recorded their best finish ever (fourth) at the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA) Championships. A total of 10 swimmers qualified for the U.S. Nationals, while 37 school records were established. Converse netted a dual meet record of 12-35 while in Las Cruces.
Before his college coaching career began, Converse was the assistant coach of the Cincinnati Pepsi Marlin Swim Team. In 1984, he guided the Mid-American swim team in Topeka, Kan., and from 1981-84, he served as Mid-America's head age group coach.
His coaching career began in 1980 in San Antonio, Texas, as he was the Metropolitan YMCA's head master's coach. Converse was a member of the coaching staff for the U.S. Long Distance swimming team at the Pan Pacific Championships. The following year, he was the head coach for the Athletes in Action summer project which produced five finalists at the U.S. Nationals in Mission Viejo, Calif. His service to the sport includes NCAA Y.E.S. (Youth Education through Sports) guest clinician in 1993 and 1999.
A native of Topeka, Kan., Converse graduated from Mission Viejo High School (Calif.) in 1976 and went on to attend the University of Alabama. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Washburn University (Kan.) in 1984. He also received his master's degree in science from the University of Northern Colorado in 2006.
Few college coaches, in any sport, can match Converse's own athletic career accomplishments. A distance freestyle specialist, Converse swam on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team as an 18-year old, placing ninth in the 400 freestyle. At Alabama, Converse burst onto the national scene as he not only won the national title in the 1,650 free his freshman year, but also set an American record and became the first man to break the 15-minute mark in the event (14:57.39). He also broke the NCAA record in the 1,000 free that same year.
Converse lives in Colorado Springs. He has two daughters, Rosie and Maggie.