COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State swimming team, unbeaten in the pool with a 4-0 record and climbing in the national rankings at No. 28 in the latest Collegiate Swim Coaches Association of America poll, is achieving outside of the pool as well as within. The 26 swimmers, nearly half of them true freshmen, came through the 2009 Fall Quarter with an outstanding team grade point average of just over 3.35.

“Our academic success is not an accident,” second-year head coach Bill Dorenkott said recently. “We are blessed at The Ohio State University with an athletic department that provides the resources for success. When you put highly motivated students in a competitive environment with unlimited opportunities, the results will speak for themselves.”

The results are, indeed, impressive. Nearly 80 percent of the team – 21 of the 26 swimmers – achieved at least a 3.0 grade point average for the quarter with 13 of them reaching a 3.5 GPA or above.  

“Everyone is academically driven on this team,” said senior health sciences major Sarah Ratica, one of three swimmers – senior Megan Alexander and freshman Lauren Massey are the others – to achieve a perfect 4.0 GPA for the quarter. “We all expect to do well in school as well as with our swimming.”

Alexander, majoring in education/human ecology, echoed what Dorenkott likes to tell the team.

“Coach always says that if you have one part of your life in line then the other parts will follow,” Alexander said. “So we all make sure we have academics taken care of.”

Massey, balancing the most rigorous training she’s ever had with classes for her biochemistry major and all the while dealing with being away from home for the first time, was the exclamation point for a class of 11 freshmen that made a statement in their first quarter on a college campus. All 11 freshmen recorded at least a 3.0 GPA and eight had at least a 3.50 GPA.

“We have fun studying together,” Massey said of her freshman teammates. “We all help each other out.”

Alexander and others have enjoyed watching the freshmen as they adjust to the rigors of college academics.

“So many of the freshmen have the same classes so they are always talking about school and about meeting at the Younkin Success Center,” Alexander said.

It is that type of camaraderie and effort that is the foundation of Dorenkott’s teams.

“I could not be more proud of our team’s efforts in the classroom,” the three-time Big Ten championship team coach said. “I have been fortunate to be a part of coaching staffs that placed a premium on attracting strong students. Additionally, I made a conscious decision to work at institutions that combine strong academics with athletics. The cornerstone of every program I have been charged with building has been academic achievement.”

Dorenkott means what he says. He has had two swimmers earn the prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship. He has had a total of 182 Academic All-Big Ten honorees and 32 College Swimming Coaches Association Academic (CSCAA) All-Americans. And his teams have been honored with a CSCAA Team Academic All-America award 11 times.

Based on the deeds of his team this past fall, academic award No. 12 can’t be far away.