Swimming alumnus dives into history books

Georgia State Athletics The 1990-91 Georgia State men's swim team photo in the program's final season: McQuade is on the first row, second from the left.
Georgia State Athletics
The 1990-91 Georgia State men’s swim team photo in the program’s final season: McQuade is on the first row, second from the left.

The still waters will once again churn as women’s swimming returns to Georgia State.

That’s right–return. Swimming was at Georgia State once before for both men and women.

Swimming first arrived at Georgia State in 1976 and continued through 1991 when it was unexpectedly cut by the university.

It was an official sport in the Panther’s Division I athletic program and was independent from a conference.

Not many people know about it, and Georgia State Athletics has failed to mention the 15-year long program in releases on the upcoming women’s swim team.

I was able to first learn about the team from Stephen McQuade, a former member of the swim team.

There is next to no information about the team because of shoddy records kept by Georgia State Athletics during that time. Only past Georgia State yearbooks and the former athletes themselves hold information on the past team.

McQuade was on the men’s swim team from 1989 up to its eradication in 1991. He told The Signal about his memories of the forgotten team.

The walk on

McQuade graduated from Henderson High School in Chamblee, Ga. in 1989 and was headed to college to just get a degree and get out.

“I picked Georgia State mainly due to savings,” McQuade said. “I knew I was going to school for a degree, then I was going to go right into flight school. So, it didn’t necessarily matter what my degree was in or where.”

As a summer job, McQuade worked at Atlanta Swim Center selling swim suits at Northlake Festival in Tucker, Ga.

“We sold to all the neighborhood teams, all the high schools, and some of the colleges- Georgia State being one of them,” McQuade said.

McQuade’s boss knew he was a swimmer, and told him he should call the Panther’s swim coach, Ted Boitt.

After meeting with the coaches and touring the campus, McQuade said Boitt told him, “‘Sure, walk on, I can’t promise you anything.’ So I walked on that first quarter and then after that I got a scholarship.”

Swim your Bottom off

Stephen McQuade started swimming right from the start of his college career.

In his first season, McQuade swam against schools such as Georgia Southern, Georgia State’s biggest rival; Georgia Tech; Florida State; Georgia and an array of other schools.

After McQuade’s first season, a coaching change was made to bring in someone serious: former All-American and silver medalist at the Pan-American games, Dave Bottom.

Bottom swam in the 1983 Pan-American games in Caracas, Venezuela and was captain of the Stanford University swim team when they won back-to-back national championship in 1985 and 1986.

“Night and day difference in people’s times, level of commitment, what was expected of you, [and] the whole seriousness of the program had stepped up a notch when [Bottom] took over,” McQuade said. “It became more of a real program.”

McQuade said the team grew over the course of that first year, including his own personal times, which McQuade said he “shattered.”

“Even though it was a small sport, he was probably the highest caliber coach on campus.”

The men’s team finished the season 9-8 while the women went 6-5 in Bottom’s first and only year.

The downfall

There came a day when everything came to a screeching halt.

“We started hearing rumors,” McQuade said, explaining they knew something was going to happen to the team.

The team was brought to an end-of-the-year party at Bottom’s house where he broke the news to them–the team was being cut and the University was bringing in women’s golf as well as baseball, which had been dormant for five years.

“[Bottom] was very upset that they pulled the rug from out underneath him with all the work he’d put in in one year,” McQuade said.

The swimmers’ scholarships were maintained for the rest of their eligibility, according to McQuade.

“I think so we wouldn’t fight them on it. They knew they were going to have a big fight on their hands.”

McQuade went on to focus on his academics after the program was cut and graduated from Georgia State with a B.A. in Urban Studies.

Running with scissors

Orby Moss was the Athletic Director for Georgia State in 1991 and was the one who ultimately decided cut the swim teams.

He did so because the sport was not sponsored by the Trans America or New South Women’s Athletic Conferences, Georgia State’s conferences at the time when the two merged in 1991.

In addition, Moss wanted to bring baseball back to athletics for the sake of the University.

In an article written by Brian Morgan in the 1991 Georgia State yearbook, Rampway, Moss is paraphrased saying “baseball alone would boost the university’s image and provide for further growth.”

The comeback

“It’s kind of sad,” Stephen McQuade said after looking at press releases from Georgia State Athletics on the new women’s swim team that fail to mention the old swim team.

Georgia State Athletics told The Signal that records of the team most likely were lost after the team was cut, and they do not mention the team in releases because of their incomplete records.

No timetable for the arrival of the women’s swim and dive team has been announced. Athletic Director Cheryl Levick said she will know more after the Sun Belt Conference meetings later in this month.

McQuade said he likes to see how far the athletics at Georgia State has come with the addition of football and now the resurrection of swimming.

“I’m glad to see it…if they get the women’s program going hopefully they’ll start a men’s team because most big schools have both.”

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Women’s swimming and diving could be official sport within month - The Signal

Comments are closed.