Pete Richardson returns to University of the Pacific

Head men’s and women’s swimming & diving coach Peter Richardson will return to his alma mater, having accepted an offer to become the head coach at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Richardson, who started the FPU program from scratch in 2007, turned Fresno Pacific into a perennial national power at the NAIA level. In five years as the head coach he led the men’s and women’s programs to three NAIA national championships and three national runner-up finishes as the program heads into NCAA Division II next season.

“Five years ago my family and I set out on a life-changing journey to start a swim program at Fresno Pacific,” said Richardson. “We didn’t know how it would turn out; we just knew we needed to obey God’s call to go to FPU. We couldn’t have predicted three national championships in our first five years. Even more, we’ve met some amazing people along the way and we are more blessed than we could have ever imagined."

Under Richardson, FPU swimmers won 31 individual NAIA national championships and 18 championship relays, while setting 24 NAIA national records and making seven U.S. Olympic trial cuts. Richardson was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year in each of the past four seasons (2009 men’s, 2010 women’s, 2011 men’s, 2012 women’s).

“I’d like to say a special thank you to Athletic Director Dennis Janzen and President Merrill Ewert,” said Richardson. “I was a 26-year-old coach who didn’t have any college coaching experience when they hired me. They saw what I could be when given a vote of confidence and a great support staff. I give men like that a ton of credit and I’ll be forever indebted to them for the opportunity of a lifetime. That opportunity wasn’t just the national records and championships: that opportunity was developing a great relationship with each member of the team. It was the day-to-day interactions with each swimmer that were life-changing.”

With his vibrant personality, tireless work ethic, contagious energy and exceptional knowledge of the sport, Richardson provided the spark the Sunbirds needed to turn the team from a first-year program to one that would consistently defeat NCAA Division I teams (including UOP in 2011) and compete for national titles.

“What Peter has done with FPU swimming is a real tribute to his passion and vision for building an elite swim program that excels in the water as well as on campus and in the community,” said Janzen. “He has made our swim program into something special and we wish him great success.”

Richardson’s teams were known not only for their success in the pool, but the character that they displayed.

“It is invigorating to coach a group of athletes who truly believe that they can accomplish something special,” said Richardson. “It’s the student-athletes who make a program, not the coach. FPU swimming & diving is a championship program because of the student-athletes. I am proud to have coached them.  I want to say a special thanks to them… thank you for taking me on this incredible journey.”

A national search for the next FPU swimming & diving coach will commence immediately.

“The university is committed to the continued growth and development of FPU swimming into one of the best programs in the nation,” said Janzen.

PHOTO: Pete Richardson with Sunbirds Stacy Carter and Kendall Swanson at the NAIA national championships

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