Purdue opens its new season with the Black & Gold Intrasquad
J Agnew completed his seventh year as Purdue men's swimming and diving assistant coach and recruiting coordinator during the 2013-14 school year.
His tenure on deck has been one of the most successful stretches in Purdue history. In 2009 and 2010, the Boilermakers tied their highest Big Ten finish by placing fourth, marking the first time they earned consecutive fourth-place finishes since 1947-51. In the past three seasons alone, Boilermakers have broken a school record 23 times and taken down a freshman record 20 times.
Agnew also has shown to be more than capable of finding top talent and bringing the best swimmers from around the country to West Lafayette. His seven recruiting classes to date -- which include swimmers from more than a dozen different states, Canada, Spain, Slovenia and Poland -- have been responsible for a USA Swimming national title at the U.S. Open, more than 40 scoring finishes at the Big Ten Championships, 14 freshman records, 12 school records and one U.S. Open Water 5K crown. The 2010 class was ranked 10th in the country by collegeswimming.com. The 2014 class was tabbed 12th nationally by SwimSwam.com.
Six swimmers qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships, including Matt Friede and Danny Tucker for the third year in a row. Along with establishing new records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, Lyam Dias became the program's first individual All-American in a swimming event since 2010.
At the 2014 Classic @ SMU, Guillermo Blanco broke a Purdue record in the 400 IM that had stood since 2007. He was named the MVP of that prestigious meet and went on to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
In 2013, the Boilers' 200 freestyle relay team garnered Honorable Mention All-America recognition for the second year in a row by qualifying for the consolation final at NCAAs. While taking third in the consolation final, the 200 free relay team of Chuck Destro, Friede, Tucker and Benjamin Ziolkowski -- all Agnew recruits -- placed 11th nationally. Friede, Tucker and Ziolkowski were part of the quartet for the second year in a row.
Stephen Seliskar and Dias were also among the Boilers' eight NCAA Championships qualifiers in 2013. Dias competed in three individual swimming events (100 and 200 breast, 200 IM) as well as the 200 medley relay at NCAAs. Seliskar swam the backstroke leg on the 200 medley relay, becoming Purdue's first freshman swimmer to compete at the national championship meet since 2006.
Tucker also competed individually at NCAAs after finishing as the runner up in the 50 and 100 free at Big Tens. He was named Second Team All-Big Ten and broke the program record in the 100 free twice at Big Tens, finishing the finals race in 42.84. His 50 free time of 19.35 was just one hundredth of a second shy of the program record.
Tucker went on to win the 100m free at the 2013 U.S. Open in Southern California.
The record-setting 200 freestyle relay team that earned Honorable Mention All-America recognition and five other new program benchmarks highlighted the 2011-12 season for Purdue. Ben Wachtel, Friede, Tucker and Ziolkowski teamed up to post a time of 1:17.71 in a one-chance time trial opportunity at the Big Ten Championships, eclipsing the school record and earning a berth at NCAAs. At the national championship meet, the quartet placed 13th in preliminaries to earn Honorable Mention All-America acclaim.
Ten swimmers also represented the program at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.
Senior Albert Miller broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, eclipsing a mark that had stood since 2006. Four new Purdue freshman records were also established at the Big Ten Championships. Guillermo Blanco (100 back, 400 IM), Jan Petric (500 free) and Dias (200 IM) teamed up to give the Boilers a promising group of swimmers for future years.
A new Purdue record in the 800 free relay established by the quartet of Andrew Starr, Brian Kiel, Drew Wolfred and Wachtel at the Big Ten Championships highlighted the new benchmarks established by the swimmers in 2011. New freshman records were also set by Friede (50 & 100 free), Kiel (100 & 200 back, 200 IM) and Eduard Galdeano (200 fly) at Big Tens.
The 2009-10 season in the pool was highlighted by Sam Wilcher. The senior capped his career by breaking the Purdue 200 butterfly record, which he had held since his sophomore season, twice at the NCAA Championships. Wilcher eventually lowered the record to 1:43.82 and finished 11th for honorable-mention All-America status. Wilcher also broke the record at the Big Ten Championships, where he finished third and completed a career sweep of scoring in both the 100 and 200 butterfly at all four conference championship meets.
Vinny Donnelly also proved that Agnew is still finding and bringing in exceptional talent. Donnelly, from Tampa, Fla., became the fastest freshman in program history in all three distance freestyle events at the Big Ten Championships. He took down the 1,650 and 1,000 freestyle records while finishing seventh in the mile with an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 15:14.40 that was almost seven seconds faster than the previous record set in 2002. Donnelly also broke the freshman record in the 500 freestyle twice, first during preliminaries with a 4:25.67 swim to break a 12-year-old record, and again while winning the C final in 4:23.84.
The 2008-09 season saw Andrew Langenfeld's 19.34 clocking in the 50 freestyle that gave him the Big Ten title, the Doris Z. Holloway Pool record and made him the fastest swimmer in conference history (record since broken). Langenfeld helped lead Purdue to a fourth-place finish that earned Purdue head coach Dan Ross his third Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.
In addition to championship success, the Boilermakers also have excelled in dual meets throughout the season. In Agnew's six seasons at Purdue, the team is 36-19 in dual meets.
In 2007-08, the Boilermakers posted a 7-4 dual meet record and a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Romain Maire also went on to represent Purdue at the NCAA Championships by qualifying for the national meet in the 200 back and the 200 and 400 IM. He posted times of 1:43.62 in the 200 back, 1:46.27 in the 200 IM and 3:48.85 in the 400 IM to make the NCAA B cut.
In total, nine swimmers recorded 16 times that qualified for the NCAA B standards. The Boilermakers also had qualifying times in all five relay events. Maire was the lone Purdue swimmer to advance to the NCAA Championships, but Langenfeld also posted three times good enough for the B cut. Aaron Koger, John Mullen and Sam Wilcher each recorded two B qualifying times.
Before accepting the job at Purdue, Agnew was a successful coach with Yorktown High School and the Yorktown Swim Club. He brought the Yorktown H.S. swimming program to unprecedented heights during his seven-year tenure, coaching eight individual state champions and 22 high school All-Americans. In his final season with the Tigers, Agnew produced seven swimmers who are continuing on to compete for NCAA Division I schools.
The Yorktown boys and girls squads combined for 10 top 10 state finishes under Agnew's watch, including a runner-up showing by his girls' team in 2006. Agnew was named Indiana High School Girls Swimming Coach of the Year following the 2003-04 season after leading the team to a fourth-place finish.
Agnew graduated from Ball State University in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics education. He is married to the former Kelly McKinley. The couple lives in West Lafayette and has two daughters, Haley and Neely.