Another pillar of the Division III swimming community is retiring. Bob Sorensen, the head coach of New York University' men's swimming & diving team had retired following 32 seasons at the helm. His retirement comes on the heels of Mary Bretscher's retirement from DePauw following 37 years and and Rich Pein's departure from UW-LaCrosse after 30 seasons.
Sorenson's departure leaves NYU looking to fill head coach positions for both the men's and women's team. Kacey McCaffrey stood in as interim women's coach this season after women's head coach Lauren Beam passed away in September. NYU has several current assistants including Auburn graduate Christian Cantwell on staff and has produced several other coaches who have moved onto new positions. Sources have indicated that NYU will combine the positions and if so it would mark the third team (following the University of Tennessee and Washington & Lee University) to do so in the past month.
Whoever comes on board will have an ally to help navigate. Sorensen will remain as the Natatorium Manager of NYU's Palladium Athletic Facility and will continue to conduct classes in swimming, lifeguard training, CPR, and First Aid.
“I am happy for Bob. All of us in the Department and the University owe him a deep debt of gratitude for all he has done for NYU swimming over the past years,” said Christopher Bledsoe, NYU's Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs/Director of Athletics. “The very good news for all of us is that Bob has agreed to remain with the Department full-time and continue to give us the great benefit of his experience and expertise as an administrator and educator. We fully expect to maximize those contributions.”
During Sorensen's 32 years, he coached 38 NCAA qualifiers and 30 All-Americans while recording a 198-122-1 (.618) career record in dual meets. NYU has had an NCAA qualifier in 11 of the last 12 years, as well as in 20 of the last 22 seasons.
“It has been an honor to have coached at NYU for over 30 years. I feel proud to have touched the lives of so many student-athletes and hopefully helped instill values that carry on after their competitive experience is complete,” Sorensen said. “While I will no longer be coaching, I look forward to continuing to assist the Department as Natatorium Manager and in my role as an educator.”
Sorensen and his assistants received University Athletic Association (UAA) Coaching Staff of the Year honors twice during his tenure, in 2005-06 and 2007-08. The '05-06 season culminated with the Violets' third consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championship.
The '07-08 campaign was arguably the most successful of Sorensen's decorated career, with eight of his swimmers qualifying for the NCAA Division III Championships. NYU placed ninth at the meet, its highest finish ever. Andrew Lardiere finished second in the 100-yard freestyle – the best performance ever on a national stage by a Violet.
Sorensen began his coaching career at the Boy's Club of Queens, and two years later became coach at Mater Christi High School, his alma mater. He also served as an assistant at the Flushing YMCA in addition to terms as president and vice president of the Metropolitan Collegiate Swimming Conference.
A 1974 graduate of St. John's University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, Sorensen co-captained the Red Storm's swim team and was a Metropolitan Conference champion in the 200-yard butterfly. He earned a Master of Arts degree in physical education at Teachers College of Columbia University in 1982.
“We congratulate Bob and wish him nothing but the best. He has earned that,” Bledsoe added. “In a very real way, Bob gives us a terrific perspective and institutional memory: where we came from; where we are, and; where we are heading. We will continue to tap Bob for that knowledge.
“It is hard to think of Bob as separate from NYU swimming,” Bledsoe continued. “For a long time they have been one and the same.”