When Chad Cradock took over at the helm of the UMBC swimming and diving teams in 2001, becoming only the second head coach in the program’s 15-year history, he took over a program that was already one of UMBC’s most successful in the school’s Division-I era.
But in his six years as head coach, Cradock has raised the teams’ stature even higher.
In UMBC’s final two seasons in the Northeast Conference, Cradock led both his men’s and women’s teams to two league titles, and the men also won their fifth and sixth consecutive ECAC crowns. In 2002, Cradock coached UMBC’s first NCAA qualifier in 13 years, Lindsey Prather. When UMBC joined the America East Conference in 2003, Cradock guided the Retrievers through a seamless transition, as both teams finished with school-best 12-1 records, and the men’s squad dominated at the league championships, scoring a then-record 901 points to take the title, while the women placed second.
In 2004-05, the men finished 10-0, becoming UMBC’s first-ever undefeated team, and captured another conference title by repeating as AEC champions and breaking their own league record for points with 920.
The 2005-06 campaign proved to be record-breaking for the women’s team, which posted a 9-1 dual meet record, winning the first eight meets of the season, and shattered 11 school records. The Retrievers took seven gold medals and finished second at the America East Championships, just 54 points behind two-time conference titlist New Hampshire, a huge improvement from a year earlier when UMBC was a distant third, 252 points behind the Wildcats. And though the men were just 6-4 in dual meets, they captured their ninth straight conference crown and third in the America East.
Then in 2007, Cradock made history as his women’s squad became the first women’s team from UMBC to claim an America East title in any sport, while the men once again displayed their dominance, capturing their fourth-straight America East title and 10th straight conference championship overall.
In addition, Cradock earned his 100th career victory in the 2006-07 season, when the Retrievers defeated Binghamton on Nov. 4. and his success has not gone unnoticed. He and his staff have been awarded numerous honors over the last five years, including 2001-02 Northeast Conference Women's Coach of the Year, ECAC Men's Coach of the Year in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and America East Men's Coaching Staff of the Year in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
Now entering his seventh season, Cradock holds an incredible 113-25 men’s and women’s combined record, good for an .819 winning percentage, and the Retriever men will go for an unprecendented fifth straight America East title in 2007-08. Cradock has been a part of nine of the 10 league titles, as he served as an assistant coach for three seasons from 1997-2000.
A native of Barrie, Ontario, Cradock earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from UMBC in 1997 and was a four-year letter-winner for the Retriever swimming and diving program. “I really enjoyed my experience as an athlete at UMBC,” said Cradock, the recipient of UMBC’s Matt Skalsky Outstanding Scholar-Athlete award as a senior. “The friends that I made here are friends that I'll have for a lifetime, and the whole school experience was a tremendous run for me. Being from Canada, it was a dream-come-true to swim at UMBC, since I always wanted to go to the States to compete. To be successful on top of it all was even more amazing.”
While at UMBC, Cradock swam at the U.S. Open and was fifth in the 400-meter freestyle at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 1996. A mid-free and distance swimmer, he capped his senior season of 1997 by earning ECAC Swimmer of the Meet honors after winning the 200, 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle events and breaking pool records in the 200 and 500 free to lead the Retrievers to a second-place finish. The previous season he won both the 500 free and the mile.
Cradock’s name stood on the UMBC record board until last season, when Freddie Reitz broke his final school record in the 500 free. Cradock set the mark of 4:28.62 in 1996, but Reitz’s time of 4:28.52 erased Cradock’s name from the board. During the 2005-06 season, Cradock’s record of 15:34.61(‘97) in the 1,650 free was broken when Ryan Karrer went 15:31.99 at the 2006 America East Championships.
“After many years of seeing my name on the board and being the head coach of UMBC, I was excited to see Ryan and Freddie break my records, as it shows the team is heading in a new direction,” Cradock said. Cradock also held the school mark in the 200 free before another one of his own swimmers, Evan Patrick, bested it in 2001.
Following his graduation, Cradock guided the UMBC Masters team to the 1998 YMCA short course national championship. Before arriving to coach the Masters team, Cradock was the assistant director at Camp Chikopi in Magnetawan, Ontario, where he coached alongside Olympic coaches. Cradock has also served as head coach of the Retriever Aquatic Club since 2000.
Cradock, who was inducted into the UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004, currently resides in Severn, Md., with his wife Christie, their four-year-old daughter Amanda and one-year-old son Geoffrey, and their dog Riley.