March 20 , 2006
Letter to the Editor
I very much enjoyed reading your piece, “Diving in: Coach does more than tread water,” on precocious Coach Jon Howell and the unprecedented success of Emory swimming as detailed in the March 6, 2006, Emory Report. Coach Howell and the athletics department should be commended for these successes, and your article was generally on the mark and a fun read.
I somehow, however, felt that his predecessor, Pete Smith, was not accorded his just due when the piece starts off literally with the statement that “… [Howell] found the squads mired near the cellar of the NCAA rankings” and, at another point, “[Howell] found swim teams stuck in a drought of losses.” It felt almost as though John Collins Warren and his colleagues once again stole the credit for the first use of gas anesthesia from our beloved Crawford Long!
Emory men regularly finished second in the [University Athletic Association] swim standings under Coach Smith, particularly in his last several years at the helm and with the women being perennial powers, often winning the conference title (six times in 13 years). Emory women swim teams under Smith were regular top 10 finishers at the NCAAs, with the men also typically finishing in the top third of Div. III schools—both substantial distances from the “cellar.” While not taking any credit away from Coach Howell, who clearly has taken the team to loftier heights and captured rare NCAA championships, male sophomore, junior and senior class swimmers he inherited from Coach Smith won the UAA in 1999, and the women continued their dominance.
There are many who’ve preceded us and created a foundation for success across Emory, even beyond the athletic venues, and I am sure you’d agree we would do ourselves well to appropriately acknowledge them.
Director of Animal Resources
Associate Professor of Pathology