When Chad Cradock took over at the helm of the UMBC swimming and diving teams in 2001, becoming only the second head coach in the program’s 31-year history, he took over a program that was already one of UMBC’s most successful in the school’s Division I era.
As he enters his 17th season at UMBC, Cradock has raised the teams’ stature even higher, as the women's team has earned three consecutive America East titles and the men took home their third straight CCSA crown.
Cradock earned ten consecutive men’s conference titles between 2002-2011 and a total of five women’s crowns. In 2013, the men reclaimed the America East title for the program’s 15th total conference championships
In UMBC’s final two seasons in the Northeast Conference, Cradock led both the men’s and women’s teams to two league titles, and the men also won their fifth and sixth consecutive ECAC crowns. In 2002, Cradock coached UMBC’s first NCAA qualifier in 13 years, Lindsey Prather. When UMBC joined the America East Conference in 2003, Cradock guided the Retrievers through a seamless transition, as both teams finished with school-best 12-1 records, and the men’s squad dominated at the league championships, scoring a then-record 901 points to take the title, while the women placed second.
In 2004-05, the men finished 10-0, becoming UMBC’s first-ever undefeated team, and captured another conference title by repeating as AEC champions and breaking their own league record for points with 920.
The 2005-06 campaign proved to be record-breaking for the women’s team, which posted a 9-1 dual meet mark, winning the first eight meets of the season, and shattered 11 school records. The Retrievers took seven gold medals and finished second at the America East Championships, just 54 points behind two-time conference titlist New Hampshire, a huge improvement from a year earlier when UMBC was a distant third, 252 points behind the Wildcats. And though the men were just 6-4 in dual meets, they captured their ninth straight conference crown and third in the America East.
Then in 2007, Cradock made history as his women’s squad became the first women’s team from UMBC to claim an America East title in any sport, while the men once again displayed their dominance, capturing their fourth straight America East championship.
In addition, Cradock earned his 100th career victory in the 2006-07 season, when the Retrievers defeated Binghamton on Nov. 4, and his success has not gone unnoticed. He and his staff have been awarded numerous honors over the last eight years, including 2001-02 Northeast Conference Women's Coach of the Year, ECAC Men's Coach of the Year in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and America East Men's Coaching Staff of the Year in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
In 2007-08, the men once again dominated at the America East Championships, winning with a score of 929, a new record for most points. Although the women lost the second-most dual meets in Cradock’s career, they outpaced second-place Boston University by 56 points on their way to a second consecutive America East crown.
In 2008-09, the men came from behind to catch Boston University and win an unprecedented sixth consecutive America East championship. Despite a 4-7 dual meet record, the women finished second at the conference meet.
In 2009-10, the first year the men were not picked to win the America East, but scored just 2.5 points less than their own conference record on their way to a 13th consecutive crown. The women, who were picked to finish well behind Boston U., finished just 84 points behind in second, the fifth straight year they have finished second or higher.
In 2010-11, both the men's and women's teams won the America East Championships for the third time in five years.
In 2011-12, both programs finished second at the conference championships, falling to Boston U., despite having the Men's Most Outstanding Swimmer, Mohamed Hussein, and Most Outstanding Diver, Andrew Eckhoff, in addition to the Female Coaches Award Recipient, Abbey McKenney.
In 2012-13, the men posted just the second undefeated dual meet season in school history, and then took back their crown with an America East meet record 1,075 points, their ninth championship in ten years in the league. The men’s win over East Carolina on Senior Day was the team’s 200th win in program history. The women, meanwhile, placed second for the second-consecutive season at the conference meet. In addition, Cradock helped guide Mohamed Hussein to the NCAA Championships where he became the third Retriever in school history to reach the national meet.
Cradock saw his squads capture three straight America East titles for the women and three consecutive CCSA crowns for the men from 2015-17. During those years, the women also saw four-time Most Outstanding Swimmer Emily Escobedo become the first female swimmer in UMBC history to compete at the NCAA Championships all four years of her career.
A native of Barrie, Ontario, Cradock earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from UMBC in 1997 and was a four-year letter-winner for the Retriever swimming and diving program. “I really enjoyed my experience as an athlete at UMBC,” said Cradock, the recipient of UMBC’s Matt Skalsky Outstanding Scholar-Athlete award as a senior. “The friends that I made here are friends that I'll have for a lifetime, and the whole school experience was a tremendous run for me. Being from Canada, it was a dream-come-true to swim at UMBC, since I always wanted to go to the States to compete. To be successful on top of it all was even more amazing.”
While at UMBC, Cradock swam at the U.S. Open and was fifth in the 400-meter freestyle at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 1996. A mid-free and distance swimmer, he capped his senior season of 1997 by earning ECAC Swimmer of the Meet honors after winning the 200-, 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle events and breaking pool records in the 200 and 500 free to lead the Retrievers to a second-place finish. The previous season, he won both the 500 free and the mile at ECAC’s.
Following his graduation, Cradock guided the UMBC Masters team to the 1998 YMCA short course national championship. Before arriving to coach the Masters team, Cradock was the assistant director at Camp Chikopi in Magnetawan, Ontario, where he coached alongside Olympic coaches. Cradock has also served as head coach of the Retriever Aquatic Club since 2000.
Cradock, who was inducted into the UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004, currently resides in Odenton, Md., with his wife Christie, their daughter Amanda, two sons Geoffrey and CJ, and their dog Riley.