Since taking over as the Tigers’ head swimming and diving coach 15 years ago, Pat Mead has provided leadership that has vaulted Towson into one of the top mid-major swimming and diving programs in the nation.
A five-time selection as the Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year, Mead has guided the Tiger women’s program to 13 winning seasons and a 133-39 record, including four consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles and a school-record 14 wins in 2010-11. Meanwhile, the Tiger men have compiled a 70-92 mark under Mead’s tutelage.
Not only have the Tigers been successful in the pool during Mead’s tenure, but they have also made successful progress out of the water. Both the men’s and women’s teams traditionally have excelled in the classroom during Mead’s first 14 years. He has had two former swimmers named as recipients of Towson University’s Doc Minnegan Scholarship Award while Tiger swimmers and divers are consistenly recognized as members of the CAA Commissioner’s List on a yearly basis. The Tigers have also been honored as Scholar All-America teams by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America over the last few years.
In addition to the strong academic success, the Tiger women’s team has used extra resources over the last decade in becoming one of the top mid-major programs in the country.
During the last five seasons, the added resources have produced some of the biggest results in Mead’s tenure at Towson. The women’s team won four consecutive Colonial Athletic Association championships in convincing fashion from 2008-11. The team won 51 of 55 dual meets during that time, including three straight years of 13 or more wins.
In 2011-12, the Tigers’ streak of four consecutive CAA titles on the women’s side came to an end. However, the Tigers boasted individual CAA champions in Cari Czarnecki and Kaitlin Burke, as the pair led Towson to a second place finish.
Czarnecki and Burke were dominant for the Tigers all season, blazing through the water at record paces. The duo each captured a pair of CAA titles, Burke in the freestyle races and Czarnecki in the butterfly and 400-yard individual medley.
Burke, the 2010-11 CAA Women’s Rookie of the Year, lived up to her billing as a top distance swimmer and won the 500-yard freestyle (with a time of 4:44.92) and 1,650-yard freestyle (16:22.88).
For Czarnecki, the CAA Championships marked the end of her record setting career. She went out on top, as her 200-yard butterfly time of 1:57.40 and her 400-yar individual medley time of 4:13.98 earned her the gold.
The men’s team was spurred by a youthful core of talent, led by a multitude of freshmen who made immediate impacts. Posting a 3-8 record, the win total represented the most dual meet victories in a season for the team since 2006-07.
Mead’s phalanx of freshmen, led by the trio of Andy Disco, Matt Lowe and Jon Burr, gained invaluable experience while leading the team to its first CAA victory in a dual meet since 2007. On the final relay of the meet, the Tigers edged Mead’s alma mater, Delaware, by a score of 184-167.
Disco swam brilliantly all season, and set a school record in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 3:58.13.
Burr set a freshman record in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:52.96 at the CAAs, while Lowe’ split of 9:31.14 in the 100-yard freestyle was also a new record.
In all, the men’s team set six freshman records during the 2011-12 season.
Under Mead’s guidance, swimmers like Meredith Budner developed into some of the top swimmers in the CAA The 2007-08 CAA Rookie of the Year, Budner earned three straight berths to the NCAA Championship and was the national runner-up in the 500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle last year while leading Towson to a 21st place team finish with four swimmers qualifying for the NCAA Championship that season.
A two-time selection as Towson University’s Female Athlete of the Year, Budner was also named as the CAA Female Swimmer of the Year as a sophomore and senior. She was selected as the Most Outstanding Swimmer at the 2011 CAA Championship.
As a team, the Tiger women’s squad has been quite successful as members of the CAA. In addition to their four CAA championships, the Tigers finished second in the 2005 CAA meet and also had a third place showing at the 2006 meet. The Tiger men’s team has also shown success since joining the Colonial Athletic Association for the 2001-02 season, recording a fourth place showing and three fifth place finishes.
In 2006-07, the Tiger women’s team finished with a 9-3 dual meet record and earned a third place showing at the CAA Championship Meet. Meanwhile, the Tiger men’s team posted a 6-5 record during the regular season and earned a sixth place finish at the CAA Meet. In addition, senior diver Bradley Bolin was named as the CAA Rookie Diver of the Year after finishing fifth in the one-meter diving event at the conference championships.
With a youthful squad six years ago, the Tiger women’s team won 7 of 12 dual meets during the regular season and finished in seventh place at the CAA meet. Meanwhile, the men’s team overcame adversity and finished in ninth place in the CAA meet, but displayed great improvement during the season.
The women’s team, which went 8-2 in the regular season, turned in an impressive performance at the CAA Championships during the 2004-05 campaign with a second place finish. Led by Jen Irby, the Tigers broke seven meet records and took home 10 CAA titles. Irby, who was named as the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the CAA Championship Meet and the conference’s Swimmer of the Year, captured the 50-free, the 100-free and the 100-fly all in record-setting fashion. She was also swam the anchor leg on the 200-free and 400-free relays which not only captured CAA titles but set new meet records in the process. The Tigers’ 800-free and 200-medley relay teams returned to Towson as CAA champions and CAA record holders. Two other individuals captured titles as current senior Liz Lebherz won the 200-free while Aly Whittaker took the 100-breaststroke.
Irby, who was also named as the CAA Scholar-Athlete, was the only female swimmer from the CAA to participate in the NCAA Championships. She placed 35th in the 50-yard freestyle, 45th in the 100-yard butterfly and 56th in the 100-yard freestyle.
In 2003-04, Mead helped the men’s squad to one of its most successful seasons. After producing a 9-2 regular season record, Towson turned in an outstanding performance at the CAA Championship Meet. During the four-day event, the Tigers claimed five individual championships and two relay titles en route to a fifth place showing.
Aaron Krause was named as the CAA Championship’s Most Outstanding Performer for the second straight year as he won individual titles in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. He was also part of the Tigers’ 400-yard medley relay team and the 800-yard free relay teams which finished first and broke the school records. The Tigers’ 400-yard free relay team finished third and broke the school record while the 200-yard medley relay team took second place.
In 2002-03, the men’s team posted a 10-3 record, which marked the program’s best record since 1997-98. The season was highlighted by Towson’s first swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championships as Krause finished 23rd in the 100-yard backstroke and 25th in the 100-yard backstroke at nationals.
On the women’s side, the Tigers also had a solid year as they posted an 8-6 record. In addition, the women’s team made history as Irby won the CAA title in the 50-yard freestyle event and became Towson’s first female NCAA qualifier.
Mead achieved a rare double in 2003 when Krause was named as the Most Outstanding Performer at the Men’s Championship while Irby picked up the award at the Women’s Championship. Irby was also honored as the CAA Scholar-Athlete for swimming while Krause was named as the CAA Swimmer of the Year.
In the Tigers’ first year in the CAA in 2001-02, both teams ended their regular seasons with perfect home records and had identical 8-4 records. The men’s team earned a surprising fifth place finish at the team’s first appearance at the CAA Championships. Krause took first place in the 100-yard backstroke, the 200-yard backstroke, and the 200-yard freestyle. As a team, the men placed first in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard medley relay.
The Tiger women finished sixth at the CAA Meet. Irby won the 50-yard freestyle in her first college season and led the 200-yard free relay to a first place finish. She was honored as the CAA Rookie of the Year.
In 2000-01, the Tigers competed in AMERICA EAST for their final season. Towson made it a memorable final appearance as the men’s team had a 9-2 record in dual meets and finished second at the conference championship, which marked the team’s best finish in the league championship. Meanwhile, the women’s team had a 10-1 record in dual meets and finished fourth in the conference.
Coach Mead came to Towson in 1998 to replace Hall of Fame Coach Ray Riordon. The founder of Tiger swimming, Riordon retired after 30 years as the head coach of the men’s team. Riordon also spent ten seasons as the head coach of the women’s program.
A native of Cherry Hill, N.J., Mead was named as the Tigers’ head coach after spending seven years as a college coach.
A 1992 graduate of the University of Delaware, Mead was one of the most outstanding swimmers in Blue Hen history. He graduated from Delaware with four school records. He held the UD records in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. He was also part of the Blue Hens’ record-setting 200-yard medley relay team and the record-setting 400-medley relay team.
A three-year team captain, Mead was the East Coast Conference champion in the 200-yard backstroke and the 200-yard medley relay in 1989, helping the Blue Hens win the 1989 ECC championship. He also helped Delaware to a second place finish in the North Atlantic Conference (now AMERICA EAST) in 1992.
Honored as the winner of UD’s James F. Baldwin Scholar-Athlete Award in 1992, Mead served as an assistant swimming coach at Springfield College from 1992 to 1994. He coached at Springfield while earning his Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in athletics administration.
After spending two years at Springfield as an assistant coach, Mead earned his first head coaching position at Drew University. During his four years at Drew, he founded the men’s and women’s swimming programs and built the programs on solid foundations.
In three competitive seasons at Drew, he led the men’s team to a 21-14 record while the women’s squad had a 21-16 mark. The Ranger men’s team finished third in the Middle Atlantic Conference in 1996 and 1997, its first two years in the league. The women’s team was fourth in 1996 and fifth in 1997.
Mead coached 20 conference champions at Drew, including a two-time All American.
In 1998, Mead returned to his alma mater and spent one year as an assistant coach. He helped the Blue Hen men’s team win its second straight AMERICA EAST championship while the women’s team finished fifth. Both the men’s and women’s teams compiled 6-4 records in dual meet competition.
Mead is just the second men’s coach in the 32-year history of the program. He is also the seventh coach in Tiger women’s swimming history.
Along with his coaching duties at Towson, Mead runs Tigerfish Aquatics, a USS team, with his wife and Tiger diving coach, Maureen Mead.
Mead is the father of four young children - Mallory, Elliott, Lilly and Daphne.