Hart brings global approach to women’s swimming

Photo by Julia Bunch

There is no doubt that Tech’s swimming and diving roster is packed full with talented athletes.  Each athlete has brought a unique set of skills to the Jackets and has performed at the high level of prowess that Tech has come to recognize as the norm.

The Jackets broke records in February at the ACC Championships for both men and women. Tech’s swim and dive team has seen improvement at a steady pace this entire season. In fact, the Jackets have seen improvement that reached further than just this season or last. The most important athlete that contributed to that improvement, and perhaps the most overlooked, is coach Courtney Shealy Hart.

Coach Hart played an obvious role in contributing to Tech swimming and diving when she was hired as an assistant coach in 2007. Her experience made her an invaluable member Tech’s program. Winner of two gold medals from the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, named SEC Swimmer of the Year that same year after winning nine conference titles and setting five conference records and member of the United States World Cup team from 2000–2004, coach Hart seemed to have an unending list of qualifications. However, the most important qualification that she has as a coach lies only in part in her own experience as a collegiate and professional athlete. Coach Hart’s ability to seamlessly join education and athleticism has been pivotal to her ability to rebuild Tech swimming and diving into an NCAA champion.

When she was first hired as an assistant coach, Hart was brought on not only to hone the athletic talent that Tech had already acquired but also to give prospective talent the push that they might need to become a Jacket. There’s no doubt that coach Hart’s background in communications has helped her to be a competitive recruiter in the ACC.

Her second year at the helm, coach Hart brought the ACC Championship back to Tech, and the Jackets smashed eight school records. The Jackets have continued to improve their ACC and NCAA standings under Coach Hart. This year, 13 records were broken during the ACC championships. Not only did she bring championships back to Tech, she did so by building a destination program for the talented, truly passionate recruits.

Coach Hart has also made the Jackets a global competitor. Tech swim and dive is home to the largest number of international collegiate athletes in all of Tech’s athletic programs. This season alone, the Jackets welcomed sixteen international students and brought on international Olympian Neil Versfeld as assistant coach.

Charisma and experience have led coach Hart to recruit students from around the world as she looks to build Tech’s program into an international competitor, but she hasn’t lost sight of homegrown talent such as former Tech swimmer Andrew Kosic.

Kosic came to Tech from West Chester, Pa., and has improved every year he swam for the Jackets under coach Hart. Making the All-Academic honor roll every year of his collegiate career, and graduating an Olympic trial qualifier, Kosic was honored as one of three athletes up for Collegiate Athlete of the Year in the Atlanta Sports Awards.

With a predisposition to recruit Olympic talent, coach Hart has helped many athletes reach the Olympic trials. During her third season as head coach, 11 swimmers made the cut for
Olympic trials.

Last year Kosic and teammate Mark Sarman qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials. Coach Hart also recruited Andrew Chetcuti and Iris Wang, both of whom competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Experience as a collegiate and an Olympic swimmer, charisma as a coach and passion as a recruiter have allowed coach Hart to grow Tech’s swimming and diving program during her seven seasons as head coach.