For over fifty years the Athens Bulldog Swim Club has been promoting swimming excellence in the greater Athens area. Founded in the 1940s as the Athens Swim Club, the team provided generations of Athens area youth an opportunity to participate in year-round competitive swimming. Throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s the Athens Swim Club succeeded in making a name for itself on the local and state level, but it was not until 1981, when Harvey Humphries took over the duties of head coach, that the program acquired national recognition.
As an Assistant Swim Coach at the University of Georgia, Humphries added Bulldog to the Athens Swim Club’s name, and ABSC has been making its presence felt on United States Swimming ever since. Under Coach Humphries, ABSC swimmers have won gold at the Georgia State Meet, Speedo Southern Sectionals, Junior Nationals, Senior Nationals, and the World Student Games.
The 1980s and early 1990s were a period of great success for ABSC as Athens natives Eric Fors, Paige Wilson, and Mark Holmes all went on to swim for the University of Georgia. Paige Wilson, an NCAA All American, went on to become one of the most decorated women’s swimmers in the history of UGA, and in 2003 she was inducted into the Athens Sports Hall of Fame.
In the later 1990s ABSC continued its success as Kara Manglitz, Stephanie Buck, Matt Buck went on to become Bulldogs at UGA. Manglitz and Stephanie Buck earned multiple All American honors, while Buck became an NCAA Champion in the Men’s 200 Yard Breast. With this swim Buck became UGA’s first men’s champion in an individual event in 43 years.
ABSC continues to fill out the UGA ranks even today as evidenced by current UGA swimmer and ABSC alum, Gretchen Schmaltz.
In the mid-1990s Coach Humphries turned over the duties of developing young talent to a recent UGA graduate and 4 year swimming letterman named Jonathan Foggin. In addition to his collegiate experience under Coaches Bauerle and Humphries, Foggin brought with him ideas that he learned in Tennessee from his High School Coach, Olympic Gold Medalist, Matt Vogel.
Beginning with a group that contained future UGA Swimmer and All American, Stephanie Buck, Coach Foggin set about laying the groundwork for ABSC’s success into the 1990s and beyond. In addition to Buck, swimmers such as Lucy Lindsey, Hilary Leigh, Robert Hamilton, and Erica Malagon have won multiple titles at the Georgia Age Group State Championships.
Leigh and Malagon have posted times that ranked among the Top 16 in the Nation for their respective age groups, and under Coach Humphries’s continued tutelage, Coach Foggin’s swimmers have gone on to compete at Junior and Senior Nationals and Division I NCAAs.
As ABSC entered the new millenium, it became a clearinghouse for top talent, as swimming’s superstars came to Athens to train with Coach Humphries. ABSC Olympians include Silver Medalist Kristy Kowal, and US Olympic Gold Medalists Sheila Taormina and Courtney Shealy.
Current stars include Olympic Gold Medalist Maritza Correia (pictured with some of her ABSC teammates at the right), and fellow USA National Team Member, Mary Descenza.
As United States Swimming enters the 21st century, the Athens Bulldog Swim Club can look toward an increasingly bright future. Talented young swimmers continue to come up through the ranks, as demonstrated by the success ABSC Age-Groupers have had in recent competition.
With its home base at the University of Georgia’s state of the art Gabrielsen Natatorium, ABSC has access to one of the premier training facilities in the world. Add to that a staff of experienced coaches, and a team philosophy that emphasizes stroke technique, a good work ethic, and having fun, and you have the elements of swimming success…BULLDAWG STYLE!