Sweeney Named K-State Rowing Coach
July 28, 2003
Manhattan, Kan. - Kansas State University Director of Athletics Tim Weiser on Monday announced the hiring of Patrick Sweeney as the second head women's rowing coach in school history.
"We are excited about the addition of Patrick to Kansas State," said Weiser. "He brings an impressive coaching resume which includes not only success at the collegiate level, but at the international and Olympic levels. He'll provide excellent leadership in helping our rowing program move forward."
Sweeney brings over 27 years of coaching experience to Kansas State, including stints on the British and Belgian Olympic teams. He has worked at both the collegiate and international level in Belgium, Canada, Great Britain and the United States. He has served as the head coach of the Belgian Olympic Team, at Oxford (England) University and the University of California as well as of several club teams in Canada and England. As an international coach, he has taken crews to 11 World Championships and four Olympic Games. He has collected one gold, three silver and three bronze medals at the World Championships and one gold and one bronze at the Olympics. In addition, he won four national championships at California.
"I am very pleased and honored to be coming to Kansas State," said Sweeney. "K-State is an exceptional university with an outstanding athletic program. I am particularly impressed by the positive and professional attitude of the athletic department as well as the warm and friendly support of the school and community. I look forward to working with the student-athletes in the women's rowing program and helping them to reach their full potential in the sport."
Sweeney, 50, comes to Kansas State after a one-year stint as the associate men's varsity coach at Stanford. He assisted the director of rowing and head men's coach Craig Amerkhanian with nearly every aspect of the program, including supervision of athletes' physical and technical preparation, budget allocation, team management, fundraising, recruiting and NCAA compliance.
In 2002-03, the Stanford varsity eight finished 14th at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's (IRA) National Championship Regatta held on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J. The varsity eight's time of 5:52.81 was better than traditional Ivy League standouts Princeton, Yale and Pennsylvania. In addition, the second varsity eight reached the Grand Final at the IRA Championships, where they placed sixth with a time of 6:06.70. This finish marked the first Cardinal eight Grand Final appearance in over four decades. The Stanford varsity eight finished fourth at the Pacific-10 Championships with a time of 5:53.4, while the second varsity eight was third with a mark of 6:05.2. Junior Jamie Schroeder was named to the All-Pac-10 team, while Schroeder and five other were selected to the academic all-conference first team.
Prior to his stint at Stanford, Sweeney was the head coach and technical director of the Belgian Olympic Team for six years. He helped improve results for both the men's and women's teams by establishing a national training, testing and selection system from junior to senior levels. As a result, Sweeney guided Belgium to a ninth-place finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, which was the best finish by a Belgian crew at the Olympics since 1924. He also helped Belgium to a bronze medal at the 1999 Junior World Championships and a record total number of medals by a Belgian team at the Coupe de la Jeunesse (European Junior Championships). During his tenure, he was honored by the Royal Belgian Rowing Federation with its Gold Medal for Services to Rowing and with the Flemish Rowing League Coaching Achievement Award. He also served on the board of the Royal Belgian Rowing Federation and the Flemish and Francophone Rowing Leagues.
Sweeney began his coaching career in 1976, while still competing for the British National Team. He helped Britain to silver medals at the 1976 World Championships and Olympic Games and to a gold medal at the 1977 World Championships. He moved on to his first head coaching position in 1977 with the Burnaby Lake Club team. In two years, Sweeney helped the club to four Canadian national titles, two U.S. national titles and three Canadian Henley wins. The women's varsity eight captured the bronze medal at the World Championships. In all, 14 of Sweeney's athletes were named to the Canadian National Team.
From Burnaby Lake, Sweeney accepted his first collegiate head coaching position at the University of California in 1980. In his first year, the Golden Bears dominated the national championships, winning the varsity eight and varsity four and finishing second in the junior varsity eight. The varsity eight title was the first-ever national championship for a women's team at California and is the only women's team to be inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. The Bears also captured national championships in the varsity four in 1981 and the novice eight in 1984.
In 1987, Sweeney returned to England to begin his second tour of duty with the British Olympic team. In his eight-year stint as an assistant, he helped the squad to a gold and bronze medal at the Olympic Games and a gold, two silver and one bronze at the World Championships. Sweeney was also a member of the British International Coaching Committee, the steering and selection body of British International Rowing.
In addition to his work with the British Olympic team, Sweeney also spent time as the head coach of the Leander Club (1987-94) and at Oxford University (1989-93). While with Leander, he increased national team representation from 10 to 60 percent and led the club to numerous Henley Royal Regatta wins and four Head of the River Race victories. At Oxford, he led the men's team to four consecutive wins against rival Cambridge. In addition, Oxford won the Visitors Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.
A multiple champion as a coxswain, Sweeney began his competitive rowing career at the age of 12 for club crews in his native England. He progressed to the British National Team, for which he competed as a coxswain in eight World Championships (1970-73-74-75-77-86-87-89) and three Olympic Games (1972, 1976, 1988). Sweeney guided Britain to a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games and a bronze at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. He also led the British to gold medals at the 1977 and 1986 World Championships and to silver medals at the 1974 and 1987 World Championships. In addition, Sweeney has won races at over 100 elite European regattas, including two Henley Royal Regattas.
A native of London, England, Sweeney is a 1972 graduate of Kingston University in Kingston-upon-Thames, England with a bachelor's degree in engineering.
Sweeney and his wife, Martha, have a daughter, Toula (4).
Sweeney takes over as head coach of the Wildcats following the resignation of seven-year head coach Jenny Hale on May 29.