Georgia Tech first fielded a swim team in 1918-19, when the first tryout was held at the city Y.M.C.A. and about 60 men came out. According to the Blueprint, the fledgling squad featured “some of the fastest water splashers that the South has ever turned out and one that would make any Eastern college hustle to beat.” The team was captained by G.R. Fraser, described as the best swimmer in the South and holder of the Southern record in both the 220-yard swim and the 50-yard swim.
Tech’s first swim meet was on the road against the Clemson Tigers. In addition to Fraser, the first Tech team included Weiss, Scott, Carson, Evans and Owens, who returned with a 50 to 19 victory. Fraser swam the 220 yards in 2:50.00, cutting four seconds off his own Southern record.
The program enjoyed success against southern competition throughout the 1920s. In 1927, Tech defeated all Southern opposition and made a good showing against two strong eastern teams. The Jackets broke into prominence by forcing the famous Brooklyn Y team to the limit, but fell 46 to 16. Two days later, Yale handed the Jackets the short end of a 46 to 16 score.
The Yellow Jacket tankmen, despite the lack of an on-campus facility, won 10-straight unofficial Southern championships from 1926-35.
In 1927, Dave Young tied the national intercollegiate record in the 150-yard backstroke in 1:43.20. Representing Tech in the national intercollegiate, Young set a new record of 1:46.10 seconds and in the finals established a new record of 1:44.00, finishing four seconds ahead of Spindle of Michigan to win Tech’s only national championship in swimming. He also earned All-America honors with a second-place finish in the 220-yard free style.
Fred Lanoue (1936-64)
The first known coach of the Yellow Jacket swim program was Raymond Eaton in 1930-31. Kenneth Thrash guided the program for four seasons from 1933-35, giving way to Professor Hartzell in 1936.
Fred Lanoue, a graduate of Springfield College and former New England diving champion, began working with the Tech swimmers in 1936 and became the Yellow Jackets’ full-time head coach in 1938 when the Tech pool was completed.
Under Lanoue’s guidance, Tech won four Southeastern Conference championships in nine years, the first in 1942 and then three in a row in 1948, 1949 and 1950. Lanoue coached the Jackets for 27 years, stepping down after the 1964 season.
Herb McAuley (1965-87)
The star of the 1942 SEC championship squad was Herb McAuley, who won the SEC 220 and 440 freestyle championships that year. McAuley had his schooling interrupted by World War II, serving in the Army Signal Corps before graduating from Tech with a degree in electrical engineering in 1947. Upon graduation he joined the Yellow Jacket staff as assistant coach under Lanoue, a position he held for 17 years.
McAuley succeeded Lanoue as head coach for the 1965 season. He coached the Jackets for 23 seasons, compiling a record of 169-144-1. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1982. Under McAuley, Tech competed in its first ACC Championships meet in 1980. The program took a one-year hiatus upon McAuley’s retirement in 1987, which signaled the end of a 40-year stint on the Tech coaching staff.
Brad Lehman (1989-91)
The swimming program resumed under Brad Lehman in 1988-89. In Lehman’s first year, senior Tim Halligan earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors following his second-place finish in the 200 butterfly. Halligan qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event, finishing 21st. Lehman coached the team for three seasons, amassing an overall record of 19-13.
Bill Humber (1992-97)
Bill Humber took over the Tech program in 1991-92. In 1993, he guided the Jackets to their then-best showing at the ACC Championships with a sixth-place finish and a then school-record point total of 198.
In 1994, diver Brandon Lumm won the first ACC championship in the program’s history with his victory in the three-meter event. He earned All-ACC recognition that year and qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships three-straight years from 1994-96.
Seth Baron (1998-present)
In August 1997, Tech hired Seth Baron to take the helm of the men’s swimming and diving program. The Jackets’ women’s program debuted in 2001-02, and Baron now pilots the combined program. Baron, formerly an assistant coach at South Carolina and Auburn, also previously worked with the U.S. National Swim Team and was the head coach for the U.S. squad at the 1997 and 2001 World Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Under Baron’s direction, Tech recorded its most successful season to date a year ago. Tech’s men tallied 580.5 points to finish a program-best second at the ACC Championships, as a record five Jackets earned All-ACC honors. Tech also placed 27th at the NCAA Championships, led by Shilo Ayalon’s eighth-place finish in the 1650 free. He earned All-America accolades for the second consecutive season.
In 2000-01, the Yellow Jackets placed third at the ACC Championships, scoring 434.50 points. Four swimmers earned All-ACC accolades: Ayalon, David Laitala, Scott Lenyk and Tomonori Tsuji. Tech also scored its first points in NCAA competition in 2001. Ayalon placed 11th in the 1650 free, while Tsuji finished 13th in the 200 breast to become the program’s first All-Americans. The Jackets went 11-3 in dual-meet competition, and 16 school records were established, led by Ayalon’s four marks.
In 2000, Baron and the Yellow Jackets finished the regular season with a 5-6 dual-meet record. Laitala became the first Yellow Jacket swimmer in 11 years to earn All-ACC recognition, placing second in the 100 butterfly at the ACC Championships. In his first season at Tech, Baron guided the team to a 4-7 dual-meet record and a seventh-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
As an athlete, Baron also competed for the U.S. National Team, winning 10 gold medals in international competitions, including the 1985 World Maccabiah Games and the 1983 Pan Am Maccabiah Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984 and qualified for the 1988 Trials.