Podkoscielny Steps Down At OSU

June 12, 2003

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Mariusz Podkoscielny, who elevated Oregon State's women's swimming program onto the national stage during the past seven seasons, is leaving to become the head coach at Miami (Fla.), it was announced Thursday.

'It's been seven wonderful years since I set foot on the Oregon State campus and I've enjoyed being here ever since,' Podkoscielny said. 'There comes a time when opportunity comes around and life takes you in a different direction and such a time came for me.

'It's a bittersweet time for me, as I have so many wonderful memories of being here and I am so proud of this athletic department for what it has accomplished in the time I was here. We are now a place that people associate with winning, and just to look around, I can't believe how much everything has improved.'

Podkoscielny, 35, took over a program that had won 12 dual meets in the five years prior to his arrival in the fall of 1996. This season, OSU was 12-3 in duals - tying the school record for wins in a season - and the Beavers tied for 25th at the NCAA Championships for their best-ever finish at the national meet.

'What Mariusz has done with our women's swimming program is truly remarkable,' OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis said. 'And it's a program that has been built the right way - with hard work, within the rules, and with student-athletes who have made the most of their college experience both in and out of the pool.

'He's not only a tremendous coach, but an outstanding teacher, a fine leader and a wonderful person to be around. He took great interest and pride in not only his own team, but in the overall athletic program at Oregon State. He's going to be sorely missed, and we wish him the best at Miami.'

Podkoscielny had an overall dual meet record of 40-38 at Oregon State, including a 154-124 win at Miami in 2001, and the Beavers earned votes in the national coaches poll this past season for what is believed to be the first time ever. OSU has set school records in 12 of the 14 individual events and all five relay events in the past two seasons.

This past season was the third straight year that Oregon State scored at the national meet; before Podkoscielny began guiding OSU's program, the Beavers had scored at the NCAAs twice. Birte Steven and Naya Higashijima both earned All-America honors the past two seasons, the first times that OSU has had two women's swimming All-Americans in the same season. Steven has earned All-America honors each of the past three seasons, the first Beaver to earn All-America honors in three seasons.

Steven will be back for her senior season next winter, and the Beavers have added a talented group of recruits to strong returning classes of sophomores and juniors.

'This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, and this team is the reason why it was so difficult,' Podkoscielny said. 'It's with sadness that I'm leaving. A coach could never ask for a better group of swimmers and a better group of people to work with than I've had for the past seven years. I'm going to miss them, but I look forward to seeing them develop and grow with the swimming program.'

In the season before Podkoscielny came to OSU, the Beavers won a total of 21 races in dual meets. That number climbed to 74 in 2001, 80 in 2002 and then jumped to 105 this past season. In 2001, OSU had a win in every event for the first time since women's swimming became a Pacific-10 sport in 1986-87, and the Beavers duplicated that feat each of the past two years.

The breakthrough season came in 2002, when the Beavers had two All-Americans for the first time and tied for 31st at the NCAAs, their best-ever finish to that point. OSU placed seventh at the Pacific-10 Championships, matching its best-ever finish at that meet as it topped rivals Washington and Washington State; all six other Pac-10 schools with women's swimming programs also field diving squads, and those points enter into the team race.

Podkoscielny was also instrumental in returning Oregon State's home meets to campus after the Beavers had competed at Osborn Aquatic Center in north Corvallis for several years. For the 1999-2000 season, Stevens Natatorium was outfitted with a timing system and bleachers to allow the Beavers an on-campus home. OSU has a dual record of 11-4 in the pool and is 7-1 there the past two seasons and has drawn loud, near-capacity crowds for most meets.

'I want to thank Oregon State for the opportunities it gave me,' Podkoscielny said. 'There will always be a special place in my heart for OSU athletics.'

The search for Oregon State's new head coach will begin immediately, De Carolis said.

'The work that Mariusz has put in over the past seven years has made this an attractive job in the top swimming conference in the nation,' De Carolis said. 'I'm confident that we'll have a very high-quality group of applicants for the position, and that we'll be able to select a head coach who will continue to improve our swimming program.'

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