Ray Looze is in his eighth year at the helm of both the men's and women's swimming programs and his 11th year of mentoring the men at Indiana University. Looze has achieved unparalleled success as both a coach and a world-class swimmer, accomplishments that he carried into his reign over the Hoosiers since his hiring in June 2002.
Since arriving in Bloomington, Looze has made it his mission to return Indiana swimming to the elite level it had maintained throughout the 1960s and 70s. To say that he has made significant progress over his first 10 years at IU would be an understatement. Under Looze's leadership, the 2005-06 Indiana men claimed IU's first Big Ten title since 1985. In just his second season directing the women's program, he led the team to its third Big Ten title in school history in 2007.
Despite missing one of its top scorers last season, the IU men reclaimed a spot in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships, finishing 10th with 140 points. Individually, Sam Trahin took fourth in the 400 IM in school-record time, while Cody Miller was seventh in the 100 breaststroke and ninth in the 200 breaststroke.
Overall the Hoosier men brought home 16 swimming All-America honors.
The IU men posted a third-place finish at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, as sophomore Cody Miller swept the breaststroke events for the second-straight year. James Wells also captured a Big Ten title, winning his first in the 100 backstroke.
On the women's side the Hoosiers took second at the Big Ten Championships, with the 800 free relay setting a Big Ten meet record. Allysa Vavra (200 IM, 400 IM) and Lindsay Vrooman (1,650 freestyle) were individual winners, with Vavra being named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships and Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.
In 2012 the IU women tallied their ninth-straight top-15 finish at the NCAA Champsionships, placing 13th. Vrooman took eighth in the 500 free and sixth in the 1,650 free, while Vavra was eighth in the 200 IM, fifth in the 400 IM and seventh in the 200 backstroke. The Hoosiers went home with 11 swimming All-America honors.
The 2010-11 season saw Looze's women's squad take home its third-straight Big Ten title, winning the crown in its own pool at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center. Allysa Vavra took home Big Ten titles in the 200 IM and 400 IM, while Brittany Barwegen closed out her IU career with a Big Ten Championship in the 200 butterfly. The Hoosiers were also victorious in the 800 free relay and set then-Big Ten meet records in the 800 free relay, 200 free (Brittany Strumbel) and 400 IM (Vavra).
At the 2011 NCAA Championships the Hoosiers posted a 15th-place team finish, with swimmers earning All-America honors in the 500 freestyle, 200 IM, 400 medley relay, 400 IM, 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle relay, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay.
On the men's side, Indiana tallied a second-place finish at the Big Ten meet, led by Big Ten individual titles from Eric Ress (100 backstroke) and Cody Miller (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke). Ress set a new meet record in the 100 back (45.11), while Miller's winning time in the 200 breaststroke was the second-fastest time in school history (1:54.16).
At the NCAA meet, Ress went on to earn runner-up finishes in the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke, and the Hoosiers took All-America honors in the 500 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 800 freestyle relay and 200 breaststroke.
In 2009-10 Looze helped direct the women's program to its second-consecutive Big Ten title and third over a four-year period. The women took home six individual titles and two relay crowns, with Kate Fesenko named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, as well as Swimmer of the Championships. Taylor Wohrley took home Freshman of the Year honors.
The women went on to post a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships, with Fesenko becoming the first Hoosier female to earn a swimming national title, taking the 200 backstroke crown.
On the men's side, Aaron Opell closed out his IU career with a Big Ten title in the 200 breaststroke and went on to earn All-America honors in the event at the NCAA Championships.
In 2008-09, Looze guided the women to their second Big Ten title in three seasons and led a group of 12 women to the NCAA Championships where the team finished 10th. Kate Fesenko defended her Big Ten titles in the 100 back and 200 back and went on to earn All-America honors in both events. Freshman Nikki White made a splash in the distance events, winning the 500 free at Big Tens and posting a top-10 finish in the 1,650 free at NCAAs. For his efforts Looze was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, while Fesenko was honored as the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.
A young men's squad finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships, led by freshman Eric Ress. Ress finished second in the 100 and 200 backstroke and fifth in the 500 free. He went on to earn All-America honors in the 100 back at the NCAA Championships.
In 2007-08, Looze became the first coach in IU history to lead both the men's and women's squads to top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. Individual success came in the form of Ben Hesen who captured the NCAA title in the 100 backstroke, becoming the first Hoosier individual swimming national champion since 1976. At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Hesen set a new American record in the 50-meter backstroke.
On the women's side, Fesenko picked up second-and third-place finishes in the 200 back and 100 back, respectively, at the national meet. Both the men and women finished 10th, with the men's point total of 166 the most since Indiana tallied 173 points for fourth place at the 1977 NCAA Championships. In Big Ten competition, the men finished second, capturing four individual and relay titles, the most ever under Looze's tutelage.
The 2006-07 women's squad came home from Big Tens with seven event titles, while setting 10 school records and two conference records along the way. In addition, Leila Vaziri became the first female swimmer in school history to set a world record when she clocked a time of 28.16 in the 50-meter backstroke at the 2007 FINA World Championships in Australia. In 2007 the men posted a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten meet. The group tallied 13 All-America citations at the NCAA Championships, led by four from Hesen. Hesen became the first IU swimmer in 28 years to reach the championship finals of two individual events, finishing second in the 100 backstroke and eighth in the 200 back.
Following the Hoosiers' Big Ten championship performance in 2006, Kevin Swander earned Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships for the second time in his Hoosier career. He joined three other former Big Ten swimmers in earning two Swimmer of the Championships awards since its inception in 1991. Looze picked up his first Big Ten Swimming Coach of the Year. Nick Walkotten became the first swimmer to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in IU school history. He joined former diver Tom Davidson, who earned the honor in 1997, to win the Freshman of the Year honor.
Additionally, Indiana men have snared 91 All-America certificates under Looze's tenure, with 20 of those coming in 2008. Meanwhile, Indiana closed out the 2006 NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Ga., with a 12th-place total of 115.5 points.
For the women, 2007 was a magical season, culminating in just its second official Big Ten title since the conference began sponsoring the sport in 1982. Vaziri won the 100-yard backstroke, setting a then-Big Ten record in the process. Allison Kay won the 200 butterfly, becoming the first female swimmer in school history to win the event. Looze was named Swimming Coach of the Year for the first time on the women's side. IU led league schools with nine All-Big Ten selections.
At the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, the Hoosiers finished 11th with 109.5 points. Vaziri took third in the 100-yard backstroke and also earned All-America certificates in the 400-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay. Vaziri closed her amazing IU career with 15 All-America citations, eclipsing the previous school record of 13 held by Erin Smith (2002-05).
In 2006, the Hoosiers claimed six All-America certificates at the NCAA Championships. Allison Kay garnered an individual citation with a 10th-place finish in the 400 IM, while Vaziri captured 10th in the 100 back. Additionally, the quartet of Annica Lofstedt, Clarissa Wentworth, Vaziri and Kay each picked up All-America honors with a 14th-place effort in the 400 freestyle relay. Overall, the Hoosiers tallied 91 points to finish in 14th place at NCAAs.
With her performance in the 100 back, Vaziri claimed her third individual All-American certificate, and 12th overall including relay action.
In 2004-05 the Hoosiers finished second at the Big Ten Championships, just three points behind first-place Minnesota. Indiana followed the league meet with a 16th-place effort at the NCAA Championships. Additionally, the Hoosiers acquired an incredible haul of All-American accolades with 24 citations over the three-day meet. Looze's swimmers accounted for 60 of the team's 76 points at the national meet.
The list of accomplishments for the Hoosier program only grows from there. In 2004, IU had its first national champion (at the ConocoPhillips Summer National Championships) since 1980 and the school's initial Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships in Swander. Vaziri became the school's first female world champion when she won the 50-meter backstroke.
At the 2005 Big Ten Championships, the Hoosiers captured seven All-Big Ten selections. Additionally, Swander claimed the 200-yard breaststroke title to become IU's first back-to-back swimming titleist since Cliff Looschen won in 1985 and 1986. Meanwhile, Indiana finished with seven swimming All-Americans (Fesenko, Hesen, Lee Houchin, Patrick, Russell, Swander and Scott Tanner) in 2005. IU also qualified for all five relays. The feat marked the first time in school history that Indiana swam in all five relays.
A proven winner before arriving at IU, the highlights of Looze's career are remarkable: Five seasons as the head men's swimming coach at the University of the Pacific produced four Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors Two seasons as the head coach at the esteemed Peddie School resulted in a mythical national championship One season as a graduate assistant at the University of Texas ended in a NCAA team championship In four years as a varsity swimmer at the University of Southern California, Looze's career was highlighted with: both academic and athletic All-America honors; top 10 finishes in eight NCAA events, including a second-place swim in the 400-yard individual medley at the 1990 NCAA Championships; a finance degree magna cum laude; an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and being recognized as a finalist for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Walter Byers Award On the international swimming scene, was a member of the 1990 United States Goodwill Games team and that year was ranked among the world's best in the 200-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys At the United States Olympic Trials in Indianapolis in 1992, just missed qualifying for the Olympic Games by placing third in the 400 individual medley and fifth in the 200 IM.
Looze arrived at Indiana after spending five seasons as head swim coach at the University of the Pacific. He took over the helm of the men's swimming program on August 16, 1997, and beginning in 1998, he assumed the role as head coach for both the men's and women's swimming programs. Looze was named the Big West Conference Men's Swimming Coach of the Year in four consecutive seasons (1998-2002). In 2002-03, Looze led both teams to Big West Conference championships and subsequently was named the Big West Coach of the Year in both men's and women's swimming.
Prior to his tenure at Pacific, Looze served as the head coach at the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., from 1994-95, where he led the storied prep school to Swimming World's mythical national championship in 1995. As a men's swimming graduate assistant at the University of Texas, he was part of another national championship team as he helped the Longhorns capture the 1991 NCAA title. He also worked as the assistant men's swimming coach at Harvard from 1992-93. At the club level, Looze has coached the Phoenix (Ariz.) Swim Club from 1995-96 and Tiger Aquatics in Stockton, Calif., during his tenure at Pacific. Success has followed Looze throughout his coaching career. In only a short period of time, the University of Southern California product took Pacific's program to new heights.
After taking over the men's program in 1997, he guided his 1999 squad to a second-place finish at the Big West Championships and earned Big West Coach of the Year accolades for his efforts. At the same meet, the Pacific women's team won its first-ever Big West title, outscoring second-place UC-Santa Barbara by 112 points.
As a student-athlete at Southern California, Looze was a standout in and out of the pool. He became the first non-football playing Trojan in school history to earn GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. In 1989, he was recognized as the school's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also a NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner and received recognition as a finalist for the 1989 Rhodes Scholarship and the 1990 NCAA Walter Byers Award.
As a Trojan, Looze was a four-time All-America selection in swimming. At the 1990 NCAA Championships, he finished second in the 400 individual medley and ultimately earned a spot on the 1990 U.S. Goodwill Games squad. He finished the 1990 campaign ranked among the world's best in the 200-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys. Looze graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business finance from the University of Southern California and earned a master's degree from the School of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife, Kandis, have two children: Bryce Ryan (14) and MacKenzie Kay (12).