In just three years as head swimming coach, Jeff Cavana has guided both men’s and women’s teams to four top-20 NCAA finishes and coached 16 All-Americans. The fourth year of his campaign will look to build on those results and continue the LSU swimming and diving tradition that was established 35 years ago.
Last year, the men’s team capped off the 2002-03 campaign with an 18th-place showing at the NCAA Championships, their eighth top-25 finish in the past 10 seasons and the second in the Cavana era. The women finished with an 8-6 dual-meet record. Collectively, he coached six athletes to All-American seasons in 2003, four of those competing in their first NCAA Championships. The men’s relay team of Evan Martinec, Francisco Paez, Mike Jotautas and Matthew Rucker shattered the school record in both the 200 and 400 medley relay as well as the 200 freestyle relay. The group finished eighth in the finals of the 200 medley relay at the NCAA Championships with a time of 1:27.81. Martinec also earned All-America honors for the third-consecutive season and the fifth time in his career with a sixth-place finish in the finals of the 100 backstroke, swimming a time of 47.16. On the women’s side, sophomore Jessica Wantz finished fourth in the 3-meter diving competition, earning All-America honors in her NCAA Championships debut.
Cavana was named the Lady Tigers’ sixth head coach of all time in August of 2000, as well as being named the program’s seventh men’s swimming coach. Rick Meador, the Tigers’ previous head coach, retired after his 11th year at the helm and Cavana stepped in as the obvious choice to uphold LSU’s tradition of excellence and to continue to lead the Tigers in a positive direction.
Cavana has been a vital component of the LSU coaching staff since his arrival in Baton Rouge 14 years ago. He was hired as the Tigers’ assistant coach in 1989, and in his 13 previous seasons with the Tigers, Cavana has played a significant role in helping establish LSU swimming as one of the nation’s premier programs. The LSU women have enjoyed a top-25 national ranking in 13 of his 15 seasons and nine times they have finished in the top 20. The men have also been ranked in the top 20 seven times.
Already recognized nationally as an outstanding swimming coach, Cavana received international acclaim for his participation in the 1996 Olympic Games which were held in Atlanta, Ga. He was selected as the Olympic swimming coach for Jamaica and helped lead former LSU All-American Sion Brinn to a fourth-place finish in the B-final of the 100-meter freestyle competition.
He joined the LSU coaching staff after serving as the head coach at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, for seven years. In his tenure at Wright State, he piloted the Raiders to a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Division II Championships. In 1987, Cavana led Wright State into its first-ever season versus NCAA Division I competition.
Cavana, 46, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Ky. He attended Western Kentucky University, where he was a four-year letterman on the swimming and diving team. He was a natural leader and was named the team captain his senior season. Cavana earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Western Kentucky University in December of 1980.
He is married to the former Helen Walsh, from Cockermouth, England. The couple has three sons, Jake (5), Sion (3), and Ian who was born on February 18, 2003.
CAVANA’S LSU TOTALS
Year Record SEC Finish NCAA Finish
2000-01 6-3 6th 19th
2001-02 3-5 7th 27th
2002-03 4-7 7th 18th
2000-01 6-5 7th 16th
2001-02 7-3 5th 20th
2002-03 8-6 7th 32nd