BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College Department of Athletics announced Friday that it will add men's and women's swimming and diving programs for the 2018-19 academic year.
The new program will compete at the NCAA Division II level, which brings the department's total to 19 Division II programs along with two varsity sports and six club teams.
Even though the formal NCAA team names include diving, Lees-McRae athletics will not offer a diving team at this time.
"Swimming and diving is one of the fastest growing sports in western North Carolina, so having an on-campus pool is a great amenity for recruiting," said Vice President of Athletics and Club Sports Craig McPhail. "The recent Williams Gymnasium fire has given us the opportunity to renovate the Rhea-Lyons Pool."
"The newly renovated pool will not only serve as the new home for the swimming program, but will be used by our Outdoor Recreation Management program, the student body as well as the community," McPhail said. "It will be just the second indoor pool in Avery County, so we think it will help us build existing relationships, while creating new partnerships in Banner Elk and the surrounding areas."
A national search for the team's head coach will begin immediately.
Friday's announcement follows news released in late March by the NCAA Conference Carolinas. The conference will now add women's swimming and diving to the 2017-18 championship season, and men's swimming and diving as an emerging sport; a designation given to those sports with less than six teams within a given conference.
Lees-McRae joins Barton, Converse, Emmanuel, Limestone and Chowan colleges as well as King University as institutions that have, or will begin, swimming and diving teams.
Interested student-athletes are asked to fill out the sports information questionnaire, which can be found HERE.
For any other inquiries, contact Craig McPhail at email@example.com or 828.898.2483.