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Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
Sowa takes over Idaho Swimming
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 06/27/2011
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MOSCOW, Idaho - Mark Sowa, formerly the head coach of the swimming and diving program at Wagner University, was hired as the eighth head coach in Vandal swimming history, Idaho Director of Athletics Dr. Rob Spear announced Monday.

Sowa becomes the second swim coach since the program was reinstated in 2004 after 22 years of dormancy.

"Rob Spear has done a tremendous job revitalizing this program and revitalizing this athletic department, and I'm excited to be a part of it," Sowa said. "They're committed to excellence at the University of Idaho and I can't wait to be a part of that and lead that excellence forward."

Sowa led the Wagner program to many milestones in his three seasons as the head coach. Sowa's swimmers set 23 school records, two conference records, earned 12 All-NEC honors and the program's first NEC Swimmer of the Year award. Sowa also coached the program's first NCAA provisional qualifier.

"We're excited to have Mark because he understands what it takes to create the premier student-athlete experience that we're known for at Idaho," Spear said. "He has built champions and he has produced leaders, and that's what we expect out of all of our coaches. Mark has an excellent track record of doing just that."

Wagner owned a combined 15-15 overall record and went 10-4 in the Northeast Conference under Sowa, finishing in the top three in the NEC Championship meet all three seasons, including a second-place finish in 2008-09. Sowa's student-athletes excelled outside of the pool as well, as his swimmers combined for 37 NEC All-Academic honors in his three years.

Sowa takes over an Idaho program that finished eighth in the last two Western Athletic Conference Championship meets.

"The biggest challenge is taking a program that finished eighth and moving it forward," Sowa said. "That's a challenge that I'm looking forward to. I enjoy challenges and we're not going to be eighth for long."

With the July recruiting period upcoming and no staff of assistants, Sowa is prepared to hit the ground running once he arrives on campus in Moscow later this week.

"I'm going to reach out to everybody currently on my team, and start preparing for the season to come," Sowa said. "Then, first thing is to reach out to the area coaches and get the ball rolling recruiting-wise. July 1st is just around the corner. Outside of recruiting, I'm going to start putting together my staff. I look forward to getting an assistant coach and a diving coach. We're going to get some good people in there."

Before taking over at Wagner, Sowa spent the previous 10 years building his coaching resume. From 2007-08 he was the assistant men's swim coach at Harvard University. Before that he was the coach at the Barracuda Swim Club in Nassau, Bahamas from 2005-07 where he won the Bahamas National Swimming Championship. Sowa was the assistant then interim head coach at Maryland from 2004-05 after stints as an assistant at Richmond and Brown University from 1999-2004.

Sowa graduated from The American University with his bachelor's degree in History and Philosophy before earning his master's degree from Brown in American History.

"I'm thrilled to be joining the Vandal family," Sowa said. "I look forward to getting started. We've got a lot of work to do."

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