May 21, 2014
Click here for a story on Converse on AL.com written by Mark Inabinett
Air Force women's swimming coach Casey Converse will be inducted into the Mobile (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Thursday, May 22, at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, Ala.
A former NCAA champion at the University of Alabama, American record holder and a member of the 1976 Olympic Team, Converse just completed his 29th year as a collegiate swimming coach his 26th at the Air Force Academy. With an overall dual meet record of 298-194-2 at Air Force, Converse is the winningest swim coach in Academy history.
"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."
After guiding the men's and women's swimming programs for 10 years, Converse recently completed 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. 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.
As impressive as his record is in the pool of competition, Converse has also coached athletes that have accomplished a great deal academically. A total of 68 athletes have earned academic all-conference honors 119 times under Converse.
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.
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.