The academic accolades for SIU continues to pile up
SIU Swimming and Diving recognized for their excellence in the classroom
The Salukis are currently in third place, ahead of Buffalo and Miami (Ohio), teams that beat SIU in last year's championships.
Head coach Rick Walker was named MAC Coach of the Year, while SIU also earned Most Outstanding Swimmer and Diver with Pallmann and Skelton.
After earning a conference title yesterday, Kegan Skelton once again qualified for tomorrow's A Final in three-meter diving.
MVC Swimming & Diving Championships (Day Four); Feb. 21, 2015
MVC Swimming & Diving Championships (Day Three); Feb. 20, 2015
A photo gallery of SIU head swimming and diving coach
Feb. 16-18; Carbondale, Ill.
Rick Walker begins his 28th year overall as the Southern Illinois University swimming coach in 2014-15. He has served as men's head coach since 1992 and added women's head coaching responsibilities in 2005.
Walker has earned 12 Coach of the Year honors and is a three-time Eastern Independent Championships Coach of the Year (1993-95), two-time National Independent Championships Coach of the Year (1996, 97), four-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1995, 96, 98, 2002) and two-time MVC Invitational Coach of the Year (2004, 05). Most recently, Walker earned 2012 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year honors in just the men's second year in the conference.
In 2013, Walker helped coach Till Pallmann, who won the 200 and 500-yard freestyle at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships.
Walker has won eight conference championships in his tenure. He has coached SIU swimmers to 214 individual and relay conference titles. Under his watch, Walker has coached Saluki swimmers to three MVC Swimmer of the Year honors, 175 first-team All-Conference selections and eight Olympic berths.
Under Walker's direction, the men's team won five-straight Missouri Valley Conference titles from 1994-1999, the longest streak in the conference.
He was named head coach of the Egyptian Olympic swimming team for the 2012 London Olympics. He was a 14-time member of the USA Swimming Olympic Committee and a five-year chairman on the USA Swimming Open Water Committee. He has been on 13 staffs for USA Swimming at World Championships. In 2009, he was honored as the America Continental Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Walker was head coach and director for USA Swimming's Open Water National Team for 12 years and the head coach for USA Swimming's development camp for 15 years.
In spring 2010, Walker coached Kirsten Groome to the NCAA Championships, the first Saluki to advance to the national stage in 20 years. In the fall, he was honored with the Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation award at the annual United States Aquatic Sports convention for heroically saving the life of an Australian swimmer at the 2009 World Swimming Championships in Rome, Italy.
The Kankakee, Ill., native has coached eight Olympians, including three that competed at the 2012 London Games, 11 World Championship swimmers, three Olympic Trials competitors and one Olympic Sports Festival contestant.
SIU produced its first male Academic All-American under Walker in 2003, when Jake Sinclair was named to the 2003 Verizon Academic All-American At-Large First Team with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Sinclair was also named to the 2003 Verizon Academic All-District V At-Large First Team.
Before serving as head coach, Walker served as an SIU assistant from 1987-92, coaching former women's head coach Jeff Goelz and his former assistant Gustavo Leal. Goelz earned multiple All-American honors under Walker's tutelage. During that span, the Salukis also advanced to the NCAA Championships twice, finishing 18th and 27th.
Prior to coaching at SIU, Walker coached at the YMCA in Joliet, Ill., for the 1984-85 season, Texas A&M and the Aggie Swim club during the 1985-86 season, and the Dad's Club YMCA of Houston, Texas, during the 1986-87 season.
Walker graduated from Texas A&M University in 1984 with a degree in recreation and parks. At Texas A&M, he swam for an Aggies team that finished 26th and 31st at the NCAA Championships during his junior and senior seasons, respectively.
During his two years in College Station, Texas, he set school records in the 500, 1000 and 1650 free and the 400 IM, qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Prior to Texas A&M, Walker swam at National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) power Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla., where he set NJCAA records in the 500, 1000 and 1650 free and the 4x100 and 4x200 free relays.
He was a seven-time All-American at Indian River and is in the NJCAA Hall of Fame. He is also in the Indian River Community College and Eastridge (Ill.) High School Halls of Fame.
Walker competed at the 1980 Olympic Trials but couldn't compete in the Olympics because of the U.S. boycott, and he qualified for the 1984 Olympic Trials but retired just prior to the event. He was a silver medalist at the Olympic Sports Festival in 1979, participated in the 1978 USA Olympic Training Camp and held a top 50 world ranking in the 1500 meter freestyle in 1981.
He led the U.S. to a World Aquatics Championship in 1998 in Australia and fourth place finishes in 2001 and 2003.
Walker served a seven-year term on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee and took the lead in the process to place open water swimming in the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing, China, a dream that was realized with the announcement in 2006.
In the summer of 2005, Walker coached the U.S. National Open Water Swim Team to a fourth-place finish at the World Championships in Montreal, Quebec. The U.S. team tallied 72 points in the event, finishing one point out of trophy contention.
For their efforts at the World Championship, Walker and his coaching staff were awarded the Glenn S. Hummer Award from USA Swimming. The award was given Sept. 16, 2005 at the USA Swimming House of Delegates meeting in Greensboro, N.C. This was the second time Walker earned this award.
Walker lives in Carbondale with his wife, Eileen. He has two children, Kyle and Kelsie. Kyle is a thrower on the SIU track and field team and Kelsie is a freshman on the swimming and diving team at SIU.