In 2007, a small group of students took the initiative and approached the Athletic Director, Kerry Prather, about the possibility of starting a Franklin College Swimming and Diving Team. The support of Mr. Prather and the college President, Dr. James Moseley, led to the hiring of Kurt Hass as an Athletic Consultant to help investigate the viability of an NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Team. Starting in January 2008, an agreement with Franklin College and Franklin Parks and Recreation Department was put together allowing interested students to be involved in a pre-club program. Lap swim and practice times were developed for any college students wanting to be a member of the club program.
Hass continued publicizing the program at the college, in the community, and with high schools around the state. In the summer of 2008, he helped hire Andrew Hendricks to begin the transition from a club sport to NCAA III status. In November of that same year, Hendricks began with a group of swimmers of various backgrounds. Practices were held consistently through February of 2009 while the team competed in swim meets throughout Indiana and Ohio.
Following the 2008–09 season, the team was instated as an NCAA Division III men’s and women’s sport. Hendricks was named as the team’s official head coach with Hass serving as the interim director of diving. In 2010, Franklin was invited to participate and applied for membership in the Liberal Arts Championships, an end-of-year championship meet set as a precursor to the NCAA National Championships. The men’s team won its first NCAA Liberal Arts Championship title in 2014 and rattled off 5 straight championships (2014 – 2018) until the team moved to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Championship in 2018. Similarly, the women departed as Liberal Arts Champions with titles in 2017 and 2018 before assuming their role at the top of the HCAC. Since 2015, the women’s team has had a record of 43-2-1 in dual meets including undefeated seasons in 2018 and 2019, both of which ended in conference titles. On the men’s side, the Grizzlies have had a dual meet record of 36-7-1 during that same time period and reigned supreme as HCAC champions once again in 2019.
Hendricks coached Artur Schneider (’17) to multiple top 8 finishes and one national title in Switzerland. Schneider then went on to qualify for NCAA nationals in four different events where he was also named as an Academic All-American. Schneider concluded his swimming career with 12- NCAA provisional time standards, 3 NCAA National appearances, and was named as an Academic All-American all three years he competed at the championships. In 2017, Schneider was joined by Regina Solik (’17) as the first female NCAA National qualifier in Franklin College team history. She competed in two events, and like Schneider, was also named as an Academic All-American. In 2019, their legacy paved the way for new Grizzlies to burst on to the National scene. Courtnee Coffman, Jessica Halsmer, Jacqueline Richard, Brynna Sentel, and Ashley Snoke qualified for NCAA Nationals in 13 different events as they led the Grizzlies to 4 All-American Honorable Mention and 3 Academic All-American honors.
The 2015-16 season marked a first for the Grizzlies when diving coach, Dee Woods, led Will Combs to his first NCAA Division III Diving Regional. The next season (2016-2017) Jacob Keener would follow in Combs’ footsteps to compete in Regional competition. In 2018-2019, Franklin hired Ty Hoffman to pick up where Woods had left off and immediately continued success at the NCAA Regional level. Since 2015, the Grizzlies have qualified 4 separate divers for NCAA Regional competition.