Spencer Scarth joined Milligan’s athletics staff as head swim coach in May, 2019.
In just his first two seasons, the Buffs set 28 program records, had 114 national qualifying times and collected 22 All-American awards, while the team has grown from 25 in his first year to a projected 42 in the 2021-2022 season.
Scarth led the men’s swim team to its first-ever Appalachian Athletic Conference championship and collected AAC Coach of the Year honors. The women’s team posted a runner-up showing at AACs, narrowly missing their first title. The Buffs had a huge contingent of individual swimmers and relays qualify for the 2020-21 NAIA Championships meet, and would have placed both teams in the top-6, but it was called off due to covid-19 concerns. Despite the lack of a national championship meet, Milligan’s men and women collected 21 All-American awards from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches of America (CSCAA) based on their top results during the season. Both men’s and women’s swimming teams were ranked No. 8 in the final 2020-21 Swimming Coaches’ Top 10 polls.
Freshman Stephen Gilbert was named the AAC Swimmer of the Year and collected eight All-American awards (200 Back, 200 IM, 400 IM, 200 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay, 200 Medley Relay, 400 Medley Relay) and freshman Gabby MacPherson led the way for the Milligan women with seven All-American nods (100 Fly, 200 Fly, 500 Free, 200 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay, 800 Free Relay, 400 Medley Relay). Milligan’s men and women have been named CSCAA Scholar All-American in all 4 semesters Scarth has been at Milligan, finishing 3rd on the men’s side and 5th on the women’s side.
During his first year at the helm, Scarth led both teams to third-place finishes in the AAC Championships with Maggie Halloran being named co-female swimmer of the year. The team then had 12 members qualify for the NAIA Swimming & Diving National Championships. Halloran continued her successful season by earning her sixth All-American recognition of her career at the national championships.
Prior to Milligan, Scarth served as an assistant swimming coach at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he helped the Brewers obtain four NCAA “B” cuts, which included guiding first year Jesse Ecklund to the highest individual finish at NCAAs in program history in his second year with the team. Along with coaching a NCAA All-American, he also recruited two Liberty League Rookie of the Year swimmers and five conference champions. During his time at Vassar, the team set 26 school records and the men’s roster increased from 10 to 24. Both the men’s and women’s teams were selected to the CSCAA All-Academic team all four semesters under Scarth’s tutelage, with the men’s team finishing as high as seventh nationally among Division III programs in team GPA.
Coach Scarth has also gained experience at the highest levels of college swimming, including at the University of Texas as a coach/counselor in 2018 and 2019, and at NC State in 2021, where he has worked alongside coaches from across the country as well as former Olympians, world record holders and Olympic hopefuls. He has also worked at RACE Aquatics in Bowling Green, Kentucky, as the head age group coach, at South Oldham High School in Crestwood, Kentucky as the men’s and women’s head coach, as well as several high schools and summer swim leagues in Louisville and Bowling Green, Kentucky. Scarth also has experience as a personal trainer and is a certified strength and conditioning coach through the NSCA.
Scarth holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and exercise science from St. Olaf College (2014) and a master’s degree in exercise physiology, with a concentration in strength and conditioning, from the University of Louisville (2016). He was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American and an 11-time conference champion while swimming at St. Olaf.
“My wife, Allison, and I are beyond thrilled to be joining the Milligan community,” Scarth said upon his hiring. “I look forward to transitioning to head coaching at the NAIA level and am eager to begin working with our motivated student-athletes. I know that we will accomplish great things in the coming years both in and out of the pool.”
Scarth is originally from Redding, Connecticut, and is married to Allison Van Winkle.