Wilkes hires coach to establish new swimming team

Bill Conway, Staff Writer

In November, Wilkes announced it would be adding men and women’s swimming to their long list of intercollegiate sports, now it has hired a coach to help build the program up; and that coach is Mark Barnes.

Building a program after a coaching change can take its toll but building a brand new program that’s entering competition against preexisting teams takes a lot of hard work, hard work that Wilkes Athletic Director Adelene Malatesta thinks Barnes can handle.

“We feel we’ve hired a head coach in Barnes that will be a hard working coach to build this program,” Malatesta said.

She also commented on how important his energy levels are to the process.

“Even more important is that he is going to bring a level of energy to the program that we’re looking for especially when you’re building from the ground up.”

As a high school swimming coach, Barnes built a strong resume. From 2005 through 2009 Barnes earned the Danville girl’s swim team four straight PIAA District IV championships and a few Northeastern Pennsylvania Swimming league championships. From 2009 through 2012 he earned the Bloomsburg Area boy’s team three straight PIAA District IV team championships.

Malatesta said the coach wants to target students who already attend Wilkes before reaching out to outside athletes.

“He’s planning on coming to campus in the hopes that he is going to be with students who are already swimmers,” she said. “We want to start with students who are already on our campus.”

Thanks to enrollment initiatives, Malatesta believes this is the perfect time to begin this process.

“We have revisited this several times over the years, to find ways to offer programs that will attract quality student athletes to Wilkes. With President Leahy on board with us and supporting student activities, we couldn’t ask for anything more with the opportunity to build this program.”

Any interest in swimming for either the men’s or women’s teams should be directed to Barnes via email at [email protected]

Malatesta encourages all Wilkes students who may be swimmers to get in contact with Barnes and to prepare themselves to build something special.

“It’s an opportunity for you to be competitive again in the pool, it’s an opportunity for you to do something that you love to do, and that you have a history doing,” she said.

“The door is open to being part of building a very strong foundation.”