Begun in 1959-60, the men's swimming and diving program has been one of the most successful in Babson's storied history. Since its inception, the program has produced 26 national qualifiers, won 19 conference event championships, and claimed 41 All-Conference award winners. In addition, 11 Babson swimmers and divers have earned a total of 22 All-America Awards, including the College's first-ever All-American Craig Saint-Amour and the school's first and to date only four-year All-American Michael Boys.
Swimming first began at Babson in the fall of 1949, when Millea Pool was officially opened. For the first ten years of its existence the pool, which was later renamed after Elizabeth Morse, served as host to the school's annual intramural swimming competitions. The sport proved to be highly popular during this time, setting the stage for the formation of an official intercollegiate team.
In 1959-60, two underclassmen named Gary Parks and Howie Linstead organized a group of ten individuals to form Babson's first-ever varsity swimming and diving team. With Parks coaching the swimmers and Linstead overseeing the divers, the Green and White participated in their first intercollegiate meet on January 16, 1960, when Babson fell to Harvard's freshman team by a score of 46-18. At that competition, freshman Tomas Fernandez became the program's first event winner when he finished first in the 200 individual medley.
Babson's first varsity squad would go on make great strides in its inaugural season, finishing the year with a record of 3-4. Among the team's victories was a 63-16 win over the University of Hartford in mid-February. Parks would then return to coach the team to its first winning season a year later, as Babson finished the 1960-61 campaign with a record of 6-2. Fernandez and Manuel Navarro were the squad's top performers in the swimming events, while Lorin Wells was the team's most consistent winner in the diving competitions.
Although the team would struggle record-wise for the next few years, the program did make history in 1965-66, when Betty Cantinella served a one-year stint as the team's head coach. In doing so, she became Babson's first-ever female coach - a full three years before the school would become co-educational. With Cantinella at the helm, the team went 2-7 behind top scorer Al Whipple.
Babson's first true swimming star arrived in 1966 in the person of Kenneth King. In his freshman season, he would earn team MVP honors while guiding the Beavers to a 7-5 record. Following a tough 2-8-1 campaign the following year, King led Babson to a 6-6 mark in 1968-69 and a 10-6 record in 1969-70 - the first 10-win season in program history. As an individual, King would rewrite the Babson record books during his four seasons, setting a total of 12 school records - 10 individual and two relay. However, King's brilliance would soon be overshadowed by the arrival of another star who would prove to be not only the best swimmer the school had ever seen, but one of the greatest athletes in Babson College history.
As Babson entered the 1970s, the swimming and diving program was poised on the brink of greatness. The team was now under the guidance of Bob Hartwell, who would go on to become one of the College's coaching and administrative legends over the course of his career. Then in the fall of 1971, a young man named Craig Saint-Amour came to Babson and quickly exploded onto the regional and national swimming scene.
In his freshman season, Saint-Amour set a total of six school records in helping the Beavers go 10-4 and place second at the NAIA District Championships. The squad also took 15th at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming Association Championships. The following year saw Babson post its best dual meet record ever - a near-flawless 13-1 mark - while placing first at the NAIA District Championships. Saint-Amour was sensational in his sophomore campaign, setting five school records and qualifying for the NAIA National Championships in the 200 free, where he became the first athlete in Babson College history to earn All-America honors.
Saint-Amour had another sensational year in 1973-74, leading the Beavers to an 8-3-1 mark, qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships, and earning All-America status in both the 100 and 200 freestyle events. As a result of his performance, he single-handedly placed Babson 37th at the national meet. That set the stage for one of the greatest seasons in Babson swimming and diving history, as the Beavers went 8-3 and saw five swimmers achieve All-American honors in four different events to place Babson 18th as a team at the 1975 National Championships. Craig Saint-Amour repeated his All-America performances in the 100 and 200 freestyle, Spencer Miller II garnered national recognition in the 200 backstroke, and Craig Saint-Amour joined his younger brother John Saint-Amour, H. Brune Levering, and Richard Braverman in collecting All-America status in the 400 free relay. As a result, Craig Saint-Amour finished his magnificent career with a total of six All-America awards while helping his team post a combined four-year record of 39-11-1.
Despite Craig's departure, the Beavers' swimming and diving team continued to excel for the next several years. After helping Babson go 9-4 during the regular season, Miller and diver Paul Gelinas both qualified for nationals and earned All-America honors in 1975-76. That placed the Beavers 34th in the team standings in what was Babson's first appearance at the NCAA Division III Championships. A year later, the team went 10-5, placed ninth at New Englands, and saw four more athletes qualify for nationals. Pat Joyce and Rick Valles each qualified in two individual events while also joining Braverman and John Saint-Amour on the Beavers' qualifying 400 free relay team.
A New Era
Under Hartwell's leadership, Babson remained highly competitive into the next decade, bosting an 11-3 record in 1981-82 and then going 10-6 while sending five more individuals to nationals in his final season on the deck in 1983-84. In stepped new head coach Rick Echlov, who in his first season at the helm guided Babson to a respectable 5-4 mark while sending yet another athlete to the NCAA National Championships. Paul Cuneo not only went to nationals, but became just the second diver in program history to earn All-American honors as he single-handedly powered Babson to a 30th-place finish in the team standings.
Like the 70s, the decade of the 1990s ushered in a new era of success for Babson swimming and diving. From 1989-90 to 1992-93, the Beavers posted a combined dual meet record of 38-12, including three straight double-digit win seasons, while placing in the top ten at New Englands all four years. And, like Saint-Amour had two decades earlier, one particular star fueled the team's rise to greatness by accomplishing something that had never been done in the school's history. This time, that star was Michael Hobbs.
Arriving at Babson in the fall of 1989, Hobbs quickly established himself in his freshman season by leading the Beavers to a 10-2 record, qualifying for nationals, and earning All-America honors in the 200 fly. As a result, Babson placed 42nd in the team standings. The following year, he paced Babson to a stellar 11-3 record before returning to the National Championships, where he repeated his All-American effort in the 200 fly and helped the Green and White finish 32nd in the team standings.
After guiding his team to yet another 10-win campaign during the 1991-92 regular season, Hobbs made his third straight trip to nationals and collected All-America honors in the 200 fly, 200 IM, and 400 IM. This placed Babson 46th in the team standings at the competition. Then in 1992-93, the senior superstar capped off his amazing career by returning to nationals and earning All-America recognition in the 200 fly - making him the first and to date only athlete in Babson College history to earn All-America honors in all four years of his career.
Into the New Millennium
While continuing to extend its two-decade run of winning seasons, Babson sent four more swimmers to nationals in 1996-97. Roy Merriam qualified as an individual while he, Diego Alcala, Chris Jenkins, and Ivan Rodriguez qualified in the 200 free relay. Then in 1999-2000, the program embarked on yet another fabulous three-year stretch that saw the Beavers go 30-10 while shining in the newly-formed New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference. From 2000 to 2002, Babson boasted a total of 10 individual NEWMAC champions and seven more relay champions at the conference meet. Heading the list of outstanding swimmers during this stretch were Mike Boys, who claimed two individual titles, Rich Chute, who collected three individual championships, and Ramon Lopez, who won four individual NEWMAC titles. Boys and Chute each swam on six of Babson's league champion relay teams, while Lopez was part of all seven winning relays. To top off his spectacular list of accomplishments, Lopez also qualified for the NCAA National Championships in 2000, when he earned All-America honors in the 50 freestyle. As a team, Babson went 10-4 while placing fourth at NEWMACs in 2000-01, and then went 11-3 and took second place at the conference meet - its best finish ever - in 2001-02.
Although the Beavers have struggled record-wise in recent years, the program has continued to boast its share of individual standouts. Foremost among those has been diver Aaron Paradis, who as a freshman in 2006-07 won conference titles in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events to become the program's first-ever NEWMAC Diver of the Year. The following year, Paradis qualified for the NCAA National Championships, where he placed in the top 20 off board boards, and then in 2009-10 he returned to nationals and earned All-America honors in the 3-meter competition.