Sweet Briar College swim coach is Hall of Famer

Sweet Briar’s swim coach Jason Gallaher was inducted into his alma mater’s Athletic Hall of Fame the weekend of Oct. 30-31. Gallaher was honored at Fairmont State University, formerly known as Fairmont College, in West Virginia during Homecoming weekend.

Jason Gallaher (right) receives his Hall of Fame plaque from Mike Arcure, chair of the Fairmont State Athletic Association Hall of Fame Committee. Photo courtesy of John Piscitelli, FSU.
Jason Gallaher (right) receives his Hall of Fame plaque from Mike Arcure, chair of the Fairmont State Athletic Association Hall of Fame Committee. Photo courtesy of John Piscitelli, FSU.

Gallaher swam at Fairmont from 1993 to 1995, after two years at Division I East Carolina University. While at Fairmont, he received the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Safety Scholarship and performed well academically.

Gallaher’s best events were the 200-yard butterfly, the 200-individual medley and the 400-individual medley. He held school records in all of these events by the end of his college swimming career and he briefly held the school record in the 200-yard backstroke.

In December 1994 he also broke West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference records in the 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly.

Gallaher was one of six inductees during the FSU Homecoming Weekend. “It was a reunion of sorts, with at least five of my teammates and former coach Ed Denny present for the ceremony. My wife Kari and our five-year old son Garrett, and my parents Gene and Cassie Gallaher were all there as well,” Gallaher said. “It was just really great to have everyone with me for this honor.”

He recalled his emotions when he received word of his induction in March. Although thrilled with the recognition, “I was a little embarrassed for being honored for doing something I loved to do,” he said.

In his acceptance remarks, Gallaher thanked his parents for teaching him to swim. “I also need to thank them for all of the dues that they paid for me to swim year-round for all of those years.”

He said being on the swim team was a privilege and to be recognized for the hard work that was expected of him and his teammates and for his accomplishments was overwhelming. “All I really ever wanted out of my swimming career was to be good. That’s really all that I wanted and it was here that that happened for me,” he said.

He also thanked his coach and teammates for accepting him, noting that he’d arrived with a chip on his shoulder and questioning whether Fairmont State was the right place for him at that time.

“This group taught me how to relax, not take myself so seriously, which was a really tough task, and they also taught me how to have fun. … I didn’t work any less hard, but I had so much more fun. In fact, I’m sure I worked harder with my new sense of team.”

Gallaher talked about the influence of his coach, Ed Denny, on both his college swimming days and his own career as a collegiate swim coach at Sweet Briar. “His vision, passion, intelligence, creativity, and my teammates will understand when I say, that even his humor made our daily journey so worthwhile. … At Fairmont State I was provided the opportunity to swim for the perfect coach for me at the right time in my life. Coach Denny was able to get the best out of me.”

Later Gallaher said his own coaching style reflects what he learned from Denny. The swim season is rigorous and calls for balance, he said. “For my team now, as their coach, I try to be most sensitive to the team’s need for balance, both academically and athletically.”