PITTSBURGH – This year, festivities during homecoming weekend may get a little wet. That’s because the Pitt Swimming and Diving programs will be celebrating two major milestones, the 100th year of the men’s team and the 40th anniversary of the women’s squad. Additionally, director of operations and senior assistant coach Marian Cassidy Clark will be honored as one of Pitt’s “Awardees of Distinction.”
Last season officially marked the 100/40 year anniversaries. The men’s program got its start in the pool on October 14, 1912 in a dual meet against Princeton while the women’s team was first sponsored by the athletic department for the 1974-75 season.
Head coach Chuck Knoles has found himself on the pool deck for a quarter of those years, and enters his 26th season coaching Pitt’s men’s swimmers.
“To be able to have the opportunity to be involved with an athletic program for the length of time that I’ve been involved with the University of Pittsburgh is just an honor,” said Knoles. “But I think equal to that honor is the ability to be able to pass through a period of time where the celebration like a 100th year anniversary is celebrated and a 40th year is celebrated.”
“I feel as though those are both very significant in that the University of Pittsburgh was one of the earliest men’s swimming teams in the country. And our women’s was one of the earliest scholarship programs in the country. Of both those I am very proud.”
What’s making homecoming weekend even more special for both current and alumni swimmers and divers is the fact that one of their own, Cassidy Clark, is being recognized as an Awardee of Distinction. The award ceremony honors varsity letterwinners who have distinguished themselves in their professions and communities and who, by their accomplishments, have enhanced the value of Pitt’s intercollegiate athletic programs.
“I’m honored to receive such a prestigious award,” said Cassidy Clark of her accomplishment. “Our University has a truly unique way of selecting 'Awardees of Distinction'. It's not necessarily the greatest of athletes. It focuses on what you’ve done since you’ve earned your degree. And that to me makes it incredibly special.”
Cassidy Clark will begin her 22nd year with Pitt’s swimming and diving program after having competed in the pool for Pitt until her graduated in 1988. During her swimming career at Pitt, Clark captured a total of 10 BIG EAST Crowns, including individual championships in the 500 freestyle and 400 IM.
In 1993, she was appointed as the head coach of the women’s team at Pitt, a title she held until 2002. For the past 10 years, Cassidy Clark has served as the director of operations and senior assistant coach for both men’s and women’s swimming and diving at the University.
“I love what I do,” added Cassidy Clark. “I am incredibly blessed that I have had the opportunity to be a part of Pitt swimming and diving on a daily basis for more than 20 years. Receiving the 'Awardee of Distinction' is a tremendous privilege."
The weekend events begin on Friday, Oct. 24 when Pitt hosts St. Bonaventure for a dual meet at 2 p.m. Later that night, Cassidy Clark will be recognized at the 54th Annual Awards Dinner at the Petersen Events Center. We encourage as many alumni of the swimming and diving program as possible to be present when coach Cassidy Clark receives her award. Tickets to attend the Dinner are $40 and include one complementary ticket to Saturday’s football game for Pitt letterwinners.
Following the dinner, there will be a swimming and diving alumni reception at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center on Lytton Ave.
Saturday, Oct. 25 will be chalk full of festivities, beginning with the Alumni Swim Meet at 9 a.m. at Trees Pool. Pitt will then host Bucknell for a noon dual meet. Also taking place that day is the Panther football homecoming came against Georgia Tech with a time still to be determined. To close out the night, swimming and diving alumni will meet at the SouthSide Works with an exact time and location to be announced.
Knoles couldn’t be any happier that the stars are aligning during homecoming weekend for the program.
“I’m equally proud of the fact that we’re having coach Marian Cassidy Clark being selected as an ‘Awardee of Distinction,’” said Knoles. “It just puts the icing on the cake to be able to have an ‘Awardee of Distinction’ as one of our current staff members for this year’s homecoming, which happens to also be in celebration of the 100th year and 40th year. You couldn’t write a better script than that.”
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