Boilermakers claim conference titles in 200 breaststroke, platform diving
Amaltdinov, Johnson among the favorites to win conference titles
4 Boilermakers set for USA College Challenge all-star meet in Indy
`The direction we are headed is exciting, and Morgan has had so much to do with that.'
Student-athletes, coaches, administrators kick off school year
Dan Ross, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, completed his 31st season as head coach of the Purdue men's swimming and diving team and his 39th year of association with Boilermaker aquatics during the 2015-16 school year. He is the longest-tenured of all 16 Purdue head coaches and is also the dean of Big Ten swim coaches.
Ross has earned three Big Ten Coach of the Year awards, which is tied for the third-highest total in conference history. The first award came in 1988, the second in 1997 and the third, and most meaningful, in 2009 following a season in which wife Sally overcame a battle with breast cancer and Purdue tied the highest Big Ten finish in program history. With an all-time dual meet record of 190-143, Ross ranks as the winningest coach in the program's history.
Purdue has scored at the NCAA Championships for 21 consecutive years, finishing among the top 25 at the national championship meet in nine of the last 12 seasons. Eight NCAA diving titles since 2009, six won by 2012 Olympic gold medalist David Boudia, have also brought a new level of excellence to the program.
Honorable Mention All-America accolades for freshman divers Joe Cifelli and Max Showalter along with Marat Amaltdinov's Big Ten title in the 200 breaststroke highlighted the 2015-16 season. Divers Steele Johnson and Boudia also qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games and Purdue was represented by 15 men at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (10 swimmers, 5 divers).
Amaltdinov would have been seeded third in the 200 breast at the NCAA Championships, but opted to forgo his berth at NCAAs in order to train for the Russian Olympic Trials. The sophomore finished ninth in the 200 breast at the Russian Trials, which Ross was was able to attend in person. Amaltdinov's conference title in a program- and pool-record time highlighted the Boilermaker Aquatic Center serving as the host of the Big Ten Championships for the first time since 2009. He became the fifth Purdue swimmer to win a Big Ten breaststroke title under Ross. With Lyam Dias also winning the 200 breast title in 2015, the Boilermakers had a Big Ten champion in consecutive years for the first time since 2004 and 2005.
Two NCAA diving titles for Steele Johnson and Dias claiming the program's first Big Ten title in a swimming event since 2009 highlighted the 2014-15 season. Johnson and Dias were among the four the Boilermakers to score at the national championship meet as Purdue finished in 17th place in the team scoring with 75 points. It was the program's top showing since 2011.
A month earlier at the Big Ten Championships, Dias' victory in the 200 breaststroke highlighted a thrilling final day in which the Boilers held off Wisconsin and Minnesota to finish fourth in the team scoring. The fourth-place showing matched the best in program history, a spot Purdue also finished in 1988, 1997, 2009 and 2010 during Ross's tenure as head coach (1985-86 to present). The Boilermakers were unranked entering Big Tens but still managed to outscore four top-25 teams.
All-America honors for four Boilermakers along with nine new program records highlighted the 2013-14 season for Purdue. The Boilermakers were represented by 10 student-athletes -- six swimmers and four divers -- at the 2014 NCAAs.
Dias garnered Honorable Mention All-America acclaim in the 200 breaststroke, Purdue's first swimmer recognized in an individual event since 2010. He graduated as the program record holder in both breaststroke events.
During his career at Purdue, Ross has coached 17 individual Big Ten champions and one conference champion relay team. He also has led 23 swimmers to NCAA All-America acclaim and overseen several international competitors, including a streak that included placing at least one swimmer in three straight Olympic Games beginning with the 1996 Olympiad in Atlanta and continuing through the 2004 Games in Athens. Ross also has seen his athletes advance to the World Championships, Open Water Championships, World University Games, Southeast Asian Games, Pan American Games, Pan Pacific Games and Maccabi Games.
In the summer of 2013, Danny Tucker won the 100m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Southern California, becoming the program's first USA Swimming national champion. Matt Friede and Tucker closed out their careers in the spring of 2014 as three-time NCAA Championships qualifiers. Friede was named the male Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient for all of Purdue athletics.
The Boilermakers' 200 freestyle relay team in 2013 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 placed 11th nationally. Friede, Tucker and Ziolkowski were part of the quartet for the second year in a row. Divers Layne Rogers and Jamie Bissett also scored at the national championship meet.
The record-setting 200 freestyle relay team that earned Honorable Mention All-America recognition at the NCAA Championships and five other new program benchmarks highlighted the 2011-12 season. Ten swimmers also represented the Boilers at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.
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 in the NCAA Championships. It was the Boilers' first qualifying relay since 2006. At the national championship meet in suburban Seattle, the quartet placed 13th in preliminaries to advance to the consolation final and earn Honorable Mention All-America recognition.
Led by All-American performances from divers Boudia, Danny Cox and J.P. Perez in Minneapolis, the Boilermakers finished 16th at the NCAA Championships with 88 teams points. Purdue was third among the Big Ten Conference programs that scored at the national championship meet. All three Boilers qualified for the championship final of platform diving, a rare feat that Purdue would duplicate again in 2015.
The Boilermakers won the seven-team 2010 Purdue Invitational in West Lafayette, outscoring nationally-ranked Ohio State and Louisville among others. At the Big Ten Quad at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center the final weekend of January, Purdue posted its first dual-meet scoring victory against Minnesota since 1988.
Boudia capped his college career by sweeping the springboard diving titles for the second year in a row. He was also runner-up in the platform, with Cox and Perez qualifying for the finals as well. As a rare accomplishment in the history of diving at the 2011 NCAA Championships, it was the first time in Purdue history that three divers reached the finals of the same event on the national stage.
The Boilermakers once again tied the program's highest finish at the Big Ten Championships in 2010 with a fourth-place showing, matching their placing in 2009. That marked the first time since 1947-51 Purdue finished fourth in consecutive seasons. The team also earned its second straight 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships for the first consecutive top-13 finishes since 1945-52.
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.
The 2008-09 season saw Andrew Langenfeld's 19.34 clocking in the 50 freestyle give him the Big Ten title, the Doris Z. Holloway Pool record and made him the fastest swimmer in conference history. Langenfeld also advanced to the NCAA Championships, where he was a competitor in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Ross was rewarded for placing so many athletes in international competitions when he served as an assistant on Dennis Dale's staff at the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Dale named Ross an assistant coach along with Northwestern's Bob Groseth and Ohio State's Bill Wadley. Ross was joined at the World University Games by Boilermakers Romain Maire, Amanda Miller, Giordan Pogioli, Zach Schultz and Adam and Kimiko Soldati. Ross also attended the 2015 World University Games in South Korea to help mentor Marat Amaltdinov, who competed in the 200-meter breaststroke for Russia.
Ross also has been able to establish a program known for its academic excellence. He encourages a balance between school, swimming and social activities in all his swimmers' lives. Because of that balance, Ross has produced CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and CSCAA Scholar All-Americans. That lists includes: Brian Daly (1993), Dean Fredette (1994), Matt Brown (1997), Louis Paul (2005) and Jamie Bissett (2014 and 2015). Giordan Pogioli (2005-06) and Jamie Bissett (2013-15) also earned consecutive CoSIDA Academic All-District honors over the last decade.
Ross also has mentored over a dozen CSCAA Scholar All-America and honorable-mention selections, as well as numerous Big Ten Distinguished Scholars and even more Academic All-Big Ten student-athletes. He has also coached six Big Ten Medal of Honor winners in Daly (1992), Brown (1997), Kovacs (1999), Paul (2005), Pogioli (2006) and Friede (2014).
Ross's teams have been regularly presented with the school's "25/85" award. Men's swimming and diving was honored because it finished among the national Top 25 during the athletic year while maintaining a cumulative grade-point average that met or exceeded expectations over four consecutive semesters, thereby supporting Purdue's goal of reaching an 85-percent graduation rate.
Ross' involvement with Purdue swimming and diving began in 1977, when he walked on to the swim team. He competed in the individual medley and middle distance freestyle events. In 1980, Ross received the Most Improved Swimmer Award and was named team co-captain in 1981.
After graduating, Ross continued at Purdue in a quarter-time position during the 1981-82 season and then served as a half-time assistant coach the next year. He was given the full-time assistant position from 1983 to 1985, and in 1985 he landed the head coaching position.
A native of North Augusta, S.C., Ross earned a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology from Purdue in 1984. He is married to the former Sally Johnson, also a Purdue graduate, who was a Boilermaker swimmer and a two-event Big Ten champion in 1980. Sally is a coach and administrator for Boilermaker Aquatics, West Lafayette's local USA Swimming club. The Ross family, which also includes sons Eric, Matt and Andy, resides in West Lafayette. All three sons went on to swim competitively in college after growing up around the Purdue program.