Coming off the best season in program history, Scott Blanchard is set for his sixth season with Tommie men’s and women’s swimming and diving, including his third as head coach in 2016-17.
Blanchard, who also serves as Director of Aquatics at UST's Anderson Pool, replaced Tom Hodgson in May 14. Hodgson directed the women’s program for 35 seasons and was head coach for the men for 34 years before retiring.
Blanchard has continued to improve on the rapid gains Hodgson’s teams demonstrated since moving into the state-of-the-art Anderson Pool in 2010. The St. Thomas men have posted seven consecutive top-two MIAC finishes, with championships in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2016. In 2013, the Tommie women had its best conference finish in 22 years by taking second place, and they repeated that showing in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Both teams have had an emerging presence at the national meet. As a sophomore, Emma Paulson finished third in the 100 back and fourth in the 200 back to lead the women to a 15th-place team finish at the national meet in 2015. In 2016, she became the first national champion in school history helping the tommies tie for 13th in the nation. Junior Mike Lanz competed for the men's team in nationals and finished third in the 100 fly and the 200 fly to lead the men to a 25th-place team finish in 2015. Lanz finished 5th in the 100 fly in 2016 and helped the men's swim team finish 15th at nationals.
Blanchard was named the conference Swimming Coach-of-the-Year for both the men and the women in 2015 and received the honor again for the women's team in 2016.
“Scott has made a strong contribution to our swimming and diving program since coming here in 2011,” said UST athletics director Steve Fritz. “He has the experience and people skills to continue and expand on the multitude of successes that Tom Hodgson’s teams achieved during his 35-year era.”
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to continue, and build upon, the strong tradition of excellence that we have established here at University of St. Thomas,” Blanchard said. “I feel privileged to work with such fine young men and women, and for an institution committed to the education of tomorrow's leaders."
Blanchard’s 20-year coaching career began in 1994 at Minneapolis Southwest High School as an assistant coach for both the boys and girls teams, from 1998 through 2000 he took over as head coach. He has been a USS club coach in Minnesota since 1996 with Richfield Swim Club, West Express Swim Club and Blackline Aquatics having worked with athletes at the Senior and Junior National level.
Before joining Hodgson’s staff in the fall of 2011, he spent two previous seasons coaching swimmers at nearby Macalester College.
A graduate of Susquehana (Pa.) University, Blanchard earned his Master’s degree in Education in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota in 2002.
Outside of the pool, he spends as much time as he can with his wife Jennifer, and their sons Scottie and Anthony. He trains for and runs marathons and triathlons in his spare time. A certified triathlon coach, he owns and operates SwimBikeRun Minnesota.
Hodgson said Blanchard has an excellent rapport with current team members. "They like Scott, trust him, and would probably swim through a wall for him," Hodgson said.