Tom Milich is in his 14th season as head coach of the Cal Poly swimming and diving program.
Since 2006-07, Milich has guided the development of swimmers who have broken all 28 school records in individual events (often several times over), as well as relay teams that have established program records at every distance.
From 2015 through 2017, 13 different school records were broken at least once each on Milich's watch. Also on Oct. 31, 2015, Cal Poly men's swimming and diving team defeated central coast and Blue-Green Rival UC Santa Barbara for the first time in his head coaching career (154.5-107.5). On Feb. 2, 2019, it happened for the second time when Cal Poly men beat the Gauchos 164.5-129.5.
He has sent swimmers to the NCAA Championships in five of the past nine years, saw five divers advance to the 2014, 2016 and 2017 NCAA Zone E Qualifying Meets and has coached 20 individual conference champions while with the Mustangs.
The program's student-athletes have earned conference all-academic honors 157 times during his tenure (including 19 during the winter of 2018-19). Additionally, among men and women, the team had a 100-percent graduation success rate within the cycle observed from 2006 through 2012, and since 2009-10, the squads have combined to achieve rare perfect annual NCAA Academic Progress Rates (1,000 out of 1,000) eight out of 13 times.
Also on Milich's watch, the program saw a renovation of its primary facility, Anderson Aquatic Center, in September of 2009. Featuring eight 50-meter lanes and eighteen 25-yard lanes, as well as an accompanying 15-by-30-foot (all-shallow) therapy pool, the Myrtha-built venue serves as a state-of-the-art location ideally suited for year-round training.
A new $100,000 videoboard was also installed at AAC before hosting eighth-ranked USC in San Luis Obispo on Oct. 17, 2014.
To close the 2015 season, Cal Poly senior Jimmy Deiparine earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in Iowa as the No. 28 seed in the 100-yard breaststroke thanks to his Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record-breaking swim of 52.94 seconds at the conference finals. As a pro, Deiparine has gone on to break multiple Phillipines national records and won a pair of silver medals at the Southeast Asian Games, in addition to competing at the FINA World Championships.
The 2015 season was also highlighted by the men's squad entering the CollegeSwimming.com national rankings (at No. 25) in late November and the women scoring dual-meet victories over Pepperdine (161-120) and UCSB (152-135).
In 2014, Cal Poly's Sonny Fierro garnered All-America honorable mention status in the men's 1,650 freestyle, finishing 15th at the national championships at Texas with a time of 14 minutes, 56.01 seconds. (He scored two points to put Cal Poly a half-point ahead of Georgia Tech.)
At the end of the previous year, senior Rachel O'Brien also made it to the NCAA Championships, where she finished 18th in the 200 butterfly in Indianapolis.
In the program's final season in the Big West, Milich coached the Mustangs to third-place finishes on both the men's and women's sides at the conference championships, the highest-ever for the school.
Also in 2009-10, Cal Poly's Peter Kline qualified for the NCAA Championships held at Ohio State in three events, a feat he would repeat as a senior in 2010-11 at Minnesota. (In the latter year, Kline was second in the 400 IM at the Pac-10 finals, a finish Fierro would later match in his premier race at the Pac-12 meet.)
Altogether, Milich is a 12-time recipient of the ASCA Coach of Excellence award, including most recently in December 2010.
For 16 years before he arrived at Cal Poly, Milich served as the Aquatics Director for the Clovis Swim Club. During that time, he coached five swimmers who went on to represent the U.S. in international competition, while seven ultimately competed at the NCAA Championships.
From 1989 to 1992, Milich was the head men's water polo coach at Fresno State. During that time, he was also an NCAA representative for U.S. Water Polo and served on the NCAA regional advisory committee.
In 1988, Milich was an assistant coach for the U.S.' silver medal-winning Olympic men's water polo team. He was also a staff member for the 1991 gold medal-winning World Championships squad and the silver-winning team at the Pan American Games.
Prior to his collegiate and international experience, Milich coached 61 All-Americans at the high school level, including future Olympians Janet Evans, John Moffet and John Mykkanen. During that time, he was honored with the California Swimming Coach of the Year award in 1987 while at El Dorado High School.
Milich graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in biology in 1978, and went on to earn his teaching credential in 1980. He played water polo for the 49ers.
He currently lives in Arroyo Grande with his wife and two daughters.