Milwaukee School of Engineering Hires Coach, Lays Plans for New NCAA Swim Team

The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has hired Janice McKeith as the first head swimming coach in school history. The hiring comes about a year after the school announced it would be adding five new women’s sports to its offering, including women’s swimming, lacrosse, ice hockey, golf and bowling. In addition, the school will offer extended athletics programs for women.

The school will also add a men’s swimming program alongside the women’s team. McKeith says the goal is to have 15 men and 15 women. She currently has about ten swimmers total on the list but expects more signings in January and February – largely due to the strength of the school’s academic reputation.

Phase one of the school’s plan to offer more women’s sports includes building new offices for coaches and new locker rooms for women.

“We are very excited to add opportunities for student athletes at MSOE. In addition to supporting the enrollment initiative, we are helping to advance the sports of women’s lacrosse and women’s hockey,” said MSOE athletic director Brian Miller. “The university has also received a plethora of requests for a swim team. Since many of our fellow engineering schools are very successful in supporting swimming, it was an easy decision to expand our offering. The same goes for women’s bowling, as the sport is one of the fastest growing disciplines in D-III.”

The school currently offers 13 varsity sports for men and the addition of 5 new programs will expand the offering to 14 varsity sports for women. The number of female university athletes will increase by 130, more than doubling the current number of women participating in university sports.

“Attracting and retaining a diverse student population and enhancing the overall college experience are key commitments in MSOE’s strategic plan and are a key reason the university continues to invest in this area,” the press release said.

The school’s 2,575 undergraduate students are 72 percent male and 28 percent female – an unusual ratio given that nearly 60 percent of college and university students nationwide are women.

“When I started MSOE here, only about 10 percent of the student body was female,” Miller said. “That number has grown tremendously. With the addition of these sports, we can continue to improve the enrollment and diversification of our student body on campus.”

The increase in female enrollment at the school is directly attributable to nationwide campaigns to encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects such as engineering.

New head coach

An active competitive triathlete, McKeith is a former high school and college swimmer who grew up in a swimming family.

As an athlete, she swam for Madison West High School, where she was an All-State and All-American athlete. She swam a national record relay, and Madison West won four straight state championships during her high school career.

She matriculated at the University of Milwaukee, where she competed in Division I. She earned a college letter as a freshman and Academic All-America honors as a sophomore.

McKeith’s experience as a swimming instructor includes swimming lessons and summer classes in high school and college. As a sophomore in Milwaukee, she also served as the student coach for the team.

She has also served as a private swim technique coach for several high school swimmers and triathletes, although her primary calling for the past 25 years has been education. This includes the last decade as a reading coach for primary school teachers.

I am excited for this opportunity and know that my unique credentials are a great fit for this new swim program!” said McKeith.

Season 1 logistics

The program will enter the competition. Most of the school’s sports compete in the Northern Athletics Collegate Conference (NACC), which does not sponsor swimming and diving, so in its first season the school will compete as independents instead.

McKeith says she’s working on 7-8 invitational meetings for the team to attend in its first season. They plan to have no reunions and will train at nearby Nicolet High School. Open to both Nicolet High School students and the general public, the pool features a 25-yard, 8-lane competitive course.

As an NCAA Division III program, MSOE does not offer athletic scholarships.

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