LEXINGTON, Va. – Washington and Lee University head men's and women's swimming coach Kami Gardner was recently the first woman inducted into the inaugural Troy High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
"I felt very humbled, excited and honored that I was chosen to be the first woman to be inducted into the hall of fame," said Gardner. "The men who were a part of the inaugural class were amazing athletes. It certainly was a fantastic experience."
Gardner graduated from Troy High in 1987, where she swam for Nancy Mathews. During her early career, she was a state swimming champion in 100-yard backstroke and earned high school All-Ohio and All-America honors.
She then went on to swim at Kenyon College where she was a 17-time NCAA Division III national champion and 27-time All-American. She helped lead the team to four NCAA Division III Championships and was named an Academic All-American on two occasions. She left a lasting mark on the record boards, breaking five national records during her senior campaign and was named the NCAA Division III Swimmer of the Year. Gardner also participated at the 1984 Olympic trials in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
Gardner started her head-coaching career with the Lakers of SUNY-Oswego. Over her 13-year stint, she guided the women's swimming team to three-straight SUNYAC titles and her men's teams finished as the conference runner-up five times. The teams collected 188 individual SUNYAC titles, 26 conference records, 144 team records, six Swimmer of the Year Awards, 43 NCAA DIII qualifiers and 49 NCAA All-American Awards.
Individually, Gardner received the SUNYAC Men's Swimming Coach of the Year Award on three occasions and was presented the Women's Swimming Coach of the Year honor eight times.
Gardner is currently in her second season as the director of aquatics and head men's and women's swimming coach at W&L. She had previously served as the head women's swimming coach for five seasons and was the interim men's coach for much of the 2011-12 season.
Her six seasons coaching the women have resulted in a 53-25 overall record and six Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships. Additionally, her athletes have received 88 All-ODAC citations during her tenure, and the Generals have claimed the ODAC Swimmer, Scholar-Athlete and Rookie of the Year Awards across the last six seasons. Individually, she has been recognized as the ODAC Women's Swimming Coach of the Year three times.
While coaching the men, Gardner helped lead the Generals to an 11-5 overall record and two Top 30 finishes at the NCAA Championships. She helped guide Rick Sykes '13 to First Team All-America laurels in the 50 freestyle, while seven other athletes have received Honorable Mention All-America status in her two seasons.
"As a coach you put your athletic career behind you," stated Gardner. "To go back for the brief moment in time and see the people you love and be the athlete again was special. It was something that I will never forget."