The Natatorium will be renamed in honor of Allen

An official groundbreaking ceremony will be announced at a later date. Allen’s name has become synonymous with UNCW’s swimming and diving program after an ultra-successful career full of impressive accomplishments.


“We are extremely pleased to pay tribute to one of the most beloved head coaches in the history of our program,” said jimmy bass, athletic director of UNCW. “It is only fitting that the facility is named after the person who created the swim and dive program and made it such a success. We are grateful to Dave and his family for their many contributions to Seahawk swimming and diving.”

A native of Rochester, NY, Allen has coached teams to 542 dual-competition wins at three institutions. Prior to UNCW, where he set a 494-356 record in 37 seasons, he coached one season at Allegheny College and then six at Potsdam State. While at UNCW, Allen coached 15 All-Americans, 155 conference champions, and 19 Eastern winners.

“I’m truly honored and grateful for this honor on my behalf,” Allen said. “During my coaching career at UNCW, I have been fortunate to come into contact with many talented and professional faculty, staff and student-athletes who have become lifelong friends. I will be eternally grateful to UNCW for the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Allen created the UNCW program in 1977-78 and it flourished. He led UNCW’s men’s and women’s teams to 16 combined conference championships, including 13 for men and three for women, as well as a pair of Eastern titles.


Allen led the men to an impressive streak of 13 straight Colonial Athletic Association men’s titles from 2002 to 2014 and also coached the women to three championships, including back-to-back crowns in 1998 and 1999, and ECAC titles in 1997 and 1988 .


Allen has collected 15 CAA Coach of the Year awards – 10 for the league’s top men’s coach and five for his success with the women’s program.
Allen swam collegiately at Springfield (Mass.) College and began his coaching career at Allegheny in 1970-71. He spent a year at Allegheny before moving to Potsdam State (NY), where he compiled a 44-26 record with the Bears.

At Potsdam, Allen’s team won the state championship in 1977 and was ranked No. 15 in the NCAA Division III poll. During his final two seasons in New York, Allen coached five All-Americans and was named Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the Potsdam Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Allen was honored in 1987 when he was selected to represent the United States government on a five-week tour of the Middle East. He has presented clinics and seminars in Turkey as part of the US Information Service’s Sports America program.

During his distinguished career, Allen sent six Seahawk swimmers to NCAA championships and numerous student-athletes earned All-CAA honors and other major accolades.

Butterflyer Sam O’Leary became the school’s first NCAA Division I All-American in 1982 and 10 years later sprinter Dan Gallagher raced to a fourth-place finish in the 50 freestyle. Diver Dean Berman competed in NCAA meets in 2006 and Caitlin Kirsteier (2010), Rob Anderson (2010) and Carly Tanner (2013) competed in NCAA meet.

Allen’s student-athletes have also had great success in the classroom. Eight swimmers – Steve Hewins (1990-91), Laura Doepp (1991-92), Deb Kresho (1993-94), Brendan Curl (1999-00), Tiago Barreira (2002-03), Michael Krayer (2005-06) , Melissa Milstead (2006-07) and Bennett Rainey (2009-10) – received the Chancellor’s Cup, the school’s highest academic honor for student-athletes.

Hewins became the first UNCW athlete to earn a CAA graduate scholarship, while Doepp was named to the GTE-CoSIDA District III Academic All-America Academic Team.

Krayer ended his career as one of the most decorated swimmers in program history. In addition to helping the Seahawks win four CAA titles, he was named CAA Male Athlete of the Year in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Six of Allen’s swimmers have been inducted into the UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame, including inaugural class members Janet Johnson and Sam O’Leary in 1998. Other swimmers entered include Burak Erdem (2002), Amy Lewis (2006), Dan Gallagher (2010) and Adrienne Sutton (2014).


Allen is a member of four elite groups. He was inducted into the Potsdam State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, the North Carolina Swimming Hall of Fame in 2019, and the UNCW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.

Allen announced his retirement on March 13, 2014, after coaching 44 years at three different institutions and officially resigned from UNCW on June 30, 2014.

Allen and his wife, Ellen, have three children – Matt, Brian and Stephanie – who graduated from UNCW and competed on Seahawk teams. Allen has six grandchildren, ages 3 to 12.

Dave Allen CAA Championships

Men – 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Women – 1998, 1999, 2006

Dave Allen Career Highlights


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