In his 10th season at West Virginia, Vic Riggs has helped the WVU swimming and diving teams climb to a nationally acclaimed status, and with an academic support system designed around the swimming and diving program, Riggs has built a team that is also recognized nationally for academic success.
Throughout his coaching tenure at WVU, Riggs has coached 19 individual NCAA qualifiers, 13 NCAA All-Americans, seven Academic All-Americans, four Big 12 Scholar-Athletes of the Year, 21 Olympic Trials qualifiers and a four-time Olympic medalist.
The 2015-16 season was a monumental year for the Mountaineers in and out of the pool. Whether it was succeeding academically, winning a Big 12 title while setting a new Big 12 Championship record or breaking multiple WVU school and pool records, Riggs coached the WVU men’s and women’s teams to a high degree. Four members of the men’s team qualified to compete at the 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. WVU graduate Bryce Bohman, seniors Andrew Marsh
, Max Spencer
and junior Nate Carr
raced in a total of nine events at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
For the first time in program history, a Mountaineer set a new Big 12 Championship record as senior Andrew Marsh set the mark in the 100 backstroke with a 45.41 as he took home the gold medal at the championship meet. Marsh also set a WVU school record in the 100 butterfly, with a prelim time of 46.59 to advance him to the A final. Eighteen Mountaineers earned medals at the four-day championship with eight All-Big 12 First Team performances and 12 All-Big 12 Second Team honors.
Riggs coached the Mountaineer men to a second-place finish at the 2016 Big 12 Championship, posting their best finish at the conference championship since joining the Big 12. The women’s squad added a fourth-place finish.
For the second consecutive year, Marsh qualified to compete at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. He met qualifying time standards in three events, the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle.
Academically, junior Nathan Howells was named the 2015-16 Big 12 Men’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the third Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for the men and the fourth overall for the WVU swimming and diving program. Howells also was named to the 2016 Academic All-District At-Large Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The honor is the first for Howells and the sixth award in program history for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Additionally, 24 members of the team were named to the 2016 Academic All-Big 12 Team.
The women’s team earned Scholar All-America Team honors by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) during the fall semesters for receiving a 3.27 grade point average and in the spring for earning a 3.34 GPA. Taylor Gill of the women’s team was named a recipient of the First Team Academic Momentum Award by the Scholar Baller® program in conjunction with the National Consortium of Academics and Sports (NCAS). She was the first member of the Mountaineer swimming and diving team to receive the Academic Momentum Award. The award recognizes student-athletes who have shown momentous improvements throughout their collegiate careers.
The 2014-15 season saw many accomplishments on both the WVU men’s and women’s squads. Riggs coached the men to a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference and the women to a fourth-place finish. With a team goal of making it back to the NCAA Championships, Tim Squires and Andrew Marsh helped accomplish that. Marsh, a junior, qualified in three evets, while senior Squires qualified in two events for his second consecutive NCAA appearance.
Fourteen Mountaineers earned All-Big 12 honors at the 2015 Big 12 Championship, including the school-record-setting men’s 400-yard relay team of Marsh, Nate Carr, Ross Glegg and Squires.
Riggs’ teams continued to excel in the classroom again in 2014-15. In total, the Mountaineers had 26 swimmers and divers earn Academic All-Big 12 honors, nine were earned Scholar All-America accolades by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, while four were named Academic All-Americans by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
The WVU women’s swimming and diving team recorded the highest GPA in the Big 12 Conference among all swimming and diving programs. The Mountaineers were also the only program in the Big 12 to have a 4.0 student-athlete from the men’s and women’s team.
In 2013-14, Riggs oversaw perhaps the greatest individual student-athlete performance in a single season in program history. Senior Bryce Bohman became just the second men’s swimmer in WVU history to earn First Team All-America honors at the 2014 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. Bohman set three individual school records (100 back, 200 back, 100 fly), was named the Big 12 Male Swimmer of the Year and earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honors.
Riggs coached the men to a 23rd overall finish at the 2014 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in Austin, Texas. He helped Tim Squires earn Big 12 Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet honors and coached nine student-athletes to CSCAA Individual Scholar All-America recognitions.
His endless devotion to academic success was evident as the women’s team posted the highest team GPA in the Big 12 Conference. The men’s and women’s squad together garnered CSCAA Scholar All-America distinctions.
The 2012-13 season was a banner year for academics within the swimming and diving teams.
Eighteen Mountaineers were named to the 2013 Academic All-Big 12 Team. Among those honored, three in the entire conference were nominated with a 4.00 grade point average, all West Virginia student-athletes – David Palley, Sloan Storie and Jenelle Zee.
Palley and Zee were also named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-District 2 At-Large Teams, while Liam McLaughlin was named the inaugural Big 12 Swimming and Diving Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year.
West Virginia had an incredibly successful inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference in 2012-13. Not only did the women produce their first First Team All-American, but nine school records were broken and a plethora of academic awards were attained.
Also in 2012-13, in Riggs’ first Big 12 Championships, the women’s team finished second and the men’s team finished third. Burnett earned the Big 12’s Most Outstanding Swimmer award, winning the 200 free, 500 free and 1650 free. Nugent added a win in the 200 fly during the championships. The men’s squad took first in the 400 medley relay and second in the 200 medley relay, while Christopher Brill took second in the 200 breast and third in the 100 breast. Ross Glegg added a pair of third-place finishes in the 100 free and 200 free.
Riggs had his most successful season as a head coach in 2011-12, leading the women and men to third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively, at the Big East Championships. For his efforts, he was named the Big East Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year. The team placed 15 members on the all-conference squad with Burnett and Nugent leading the way with seven top-three finishes for the women, while Taylor Camp had three for the men. Burnett was named the Big East Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer.
Four different women earned a total of seven All-America Honorable Mention honors at the NCAA Championships as the team placed 26th. Burnett, Nugent, Kata Fodor and Danielle Smith finished 16th in the 800 free relay. Burnett earned the honor twice more, finishing 14th in the 500 free and 11th in the 1650 free, while Nugent took ninth in the 200 fly.
Riggs also sent eight swimmers to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, the most ever from WVU. The Mountaineers were represented in 15 different events during the Trials.
In total, 10 school records, three pool records and five Big East records were broken with Burnett leading the way behind four individual and two relay.
Both squads continued success in the 2010-11 season with the women finishing third at the Big East Championships, while the men finished in fourth place. A total of six school records were broken throughout the season, one being a Big East record.
For the men, Jared Goldthorpe broke the 200 back school record with a 10th-place finish in the NCAA Championships to earn All-America Honorable Mention status.
The women’s squad saw Burnett and Nugent named the Co-Big East Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmers at the Big East Championships. Burnett took wins in both the 500 free and 400 IM at the championships, while finishing sixth in the 200 fly. Nugent won the 200 fly on the final day of competition after setting a new Big East and school record time of 1:56.64 in the preliminary session. Nugent also finished second in the 100 fly and fourth in the 500 free.
The women’s squad has earned Collegiate Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-Academic Team honors 10-consecutive semesters with Andrews and Callaway being named CSCAA Scholar All-Americans in 2009 and 2010, while Largo and Ashley Malik earned the honor in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The men’s team was named an All-Academic Team for the spring 2010 and spring 2011 term with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Individually, Brandon Robinson was named a CSCAA Scholar All-American in 2010, while Marmolejo earned the honor in 2009.
Riggs had an astonishing season in 2009-10, with the women breaking three Big East records, 12 school records and three pools records, while the men broke four school records and two pool records.
At the NCAA Championships, Burnett, Kayla Andrews, Morgan Callaway and Shaunna Purtell earned All-America Honorable Mention honors with their 15th-place finish in the 400 free relay.
Andrews, Burnett, Callaway, Goldthorpe, Nugent and George Farquhar were all individual Big East champions as well.
In 2008-09, there were 11 school records broken for the women’s team and five for the men. The women also sent three athletes to the NCAA Championships, with Michael Walker representing the men, finishing the 400 IM with All-America Honorable Mention honors. Andrews, Callaway, Lindsey Largo and Walker were all Big East champions, with Callaway being named women’s Big East Most Outstanding Swimmer at the meet.
The 2008-09 recruiting class also was a best for Riggs and his staff, as the men’s class was ranked 17th nationally and the women 24th.
During the 2008 season, Nick Delic earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American Third Team honors, as well as being named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 2 First Team.
In 2007-08, Riggs’ first season, the West Virginia women’s team broke 12 team, three pool and one Big East record. They also had three individual qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. On the men’s side, the squad broke four pool, three team records and three Big East records, while Kevin Donohue became West Virginia’s first men’s All-American. Donohue placed fifth in the 100 breast at the NCAA Championships and helped the Mountaineers to a 33rd place overall finish.
Riggs guided the team to third- and fourth-place finishes at the Big East Championships as well. The Mountaineers had nine individual champions and two relay champions.
Throughout his coaching career, Riggs has coached numerous U.S. National and NCAA Qualifiers, along with 12 Olympic medalists.
Success as an Assistant
Riggs came to West Virginia from Georgia, where he served as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs in 2006-07. There, Riggs assisted the head coach in daily workouts and designed and implemented the sprint program, while also assisting with the meet line-ups.
Prior to his stint at Georgia, Riggs coached at USC under Mark Schubert, guiding numerous Trojan sprinters and breaststrokers to All-America recognition.
In his first year at USC, he worked closely with the distance and mid-distance freestyle and 400 IM athletes. Riggs helped guide Erik Vendt, Kaitlin Sandeno, Lindsay Benko and Kalyn Keller to Olympic berths for their respective 2004 Olympic teams. He also was the recruiting coordinator at USC.
The Club Years
Riggs previously served two years as head coach and owner of the Gator Swim Club in Gainesville, Florida. He also served as head coach for the U.S. National Distance Camp in 2000 and 2002.
From 1995-2001, Riggs and his wife, Renee, directed the Nellie Gail Saddleback Valley Gators, coaching novice to Olympic level swimmers. Among the athletes Riggs coached during that time was the USC All-American Sandeno, who was a part of the 800m free relay that won a gold medal and broke a world record at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Riggs also served as the age group head coach at Saddleback Valley Aquatics in Lake Forest, California, from 1991-95. He was an assistant coach at Cal State San Bernardino from 1990-91 and also served as head age group coach for Riverside Aquatics in that time. He began his coaching career as the senior assistant at Fullerton Area Sports Team (FAST) in 1989.
Prior To Coaching
Riggs competed at California-Berkeley, earning All-America honors in 1986 and swam on Cal’s second-place NCAA team. He was ranked seventh in the world in the 1500m free and ninth in the 400m free in 1985 and was in the Top 25 in the world in both events in 1984.
A 1985 World University Games participant for the U.S., he was an Olympic Trials qualifier in 1984 and 1988. He was a 28-time qualifier for the U.S. Senior Nationals from 1983-89 and won a junior national title in 1982.
Riggs and his wife, Renee, have four daughters: Abigail, Kathryn and twins Caroline and Irene.