From the Coach
"The contributions made to the swim teams through the Keydet Club have been invaluable to the continued growth of the program. It has allowed us to make facility upgrades, purchase training equipment, and other items such as team warm ups.
The team members are aware that contributions are made to the team, and it gives them a sense of pride knowing they represent such a tight knit and dedicated athletic family."
Bill Nicholson, Head Swimming Coach
As head coach Bill Nicholson continues his eighth season at the Virginia Military Institute, he looks to build upon the success he has already accomplished with the VMI Swimming & Diving programs. After winning back-to-back men's championships in the Northeast Conference (NEC), Nicholson has ushered in a new era, as the Keydets are in their third season in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA).
The success the men's program has experienced, however, is just part of the story of Nicholson's recent work. In 2005-06, VMI added women's swimming and diving as a varsity sport, and that season, Nicholson led the team to its first showing in the NEC Championship. In 2006-07, VMI finished ahead of Florida A&M at the NEC Championship, marking the first time the program had defeated an opponent at a conference championship, while last season, the team won its first-ever dual meet, a 52-51 decision at home against New Jersey Tech.
In his time at the Institute, Nicholson has seen his Keydets claim 12 individual/team relay conference championships, including seven at the 2006 NEC Championships. Also in 2006, Nicholson saw saw Brenden Geoghagen claim Most Outstanding Diver honors, after the senior claimed both the one-meter and three-meter events.
His team's work in the pool, however, only tells half the story. For six consecutive semesters, his men's team received recognition as part of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America National Honor Roll. Teams must post a cumulative 2.80 GPA to qualify for the honor.
In addition to his team's academic excellence, Nicholson coached Tom Petykowski '05, who was VMI's valedictorian and an All-Conference diver in 2005 and was named First Team Academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine. Petykowski was one of 15 honorees nationwide that were chosen to the At-Large team that consisted of NCAA Division I playing members in gymnastics, golf, rifle, tennis, ice hockey, volleyball, fencing, lacrosse, swimming & diving, skiing and wrestling. He still stands as one of six Keydets to ever earn National First Team honors, and is the first to do so in a sport other than football or basketball.
Nicholson (36) took over the VMI swimming and diving program on August 5, 2002. Previously, he spent the 2001-02 season coaching the USS Condors Swim Club in Pleasantville, N.Y., where he coached both the boys and girls programs.
Nicholson spent the previous three years (1998-2001) as the men's and women's head swimming coach at Plattsburgh (N.Y.) State University. In his time at Plattsburgh, his teams broke 15 school records. The programs featured just 12 athletes when Nicholson took over, a number that grew to 35 by the time he departed. He improved the Cardinals men's team's performance at the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) from a ninth place finish (16 points) in his first season to a sixth place finish (330 points) in his final season.
From 1995 to 1998, Nicholson served as the assistant coach for his alma mater, SUNY New Paltz. He worked with the breast and individual medley swimmers primarily during his stint. He helped three swimmers qualify for the Division III NCAA Championships and the men's team's finished in the top four of the SUNYAC each year.
As a collegiate swimmer, Nicholson qualified for the Division III NCAA Championships three times and captured eight school records. He won the SUNYAC title in the 400 medley relay in his junior year and was named the team's most valuable swimmer as a senior. In addition, Nicholson won the Coaches Award for Hardest Worker three years and won the team's Scholar-Athlete Award each of the four seasons he competed. Nicholson graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 1995.
A native of Horseheads, N.Y., Nicholson swam four years at Horseheads High School and graduated in 1991. He and his wife, Emma, reside in Lexington with their daughter, Emily and son, Ben.