When California Baptist University went to its first-ever NAIA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championship in 2000, the Lancers grabbed the first of what turned out to be a combined 10 runner-up finishes over the course of the next six championship meets.
It was a pretty remarkable accomplishment for a brand new program barely old enough to start kindergarten.
However, six straight years of finishing second while watching the same team win it all can get old pretty quickly. Simon Fraser won 28 NAIA national championships combined (17 men, 11 women), including a combined 12 from 1998-2005. Breaking through a juggernaut can be a daunting and exhausting task.
In 2005, though, the Lancer women finally broke through the wall with their first-ever national championship, but it all came together one year later when, for the first time in program history, CBU became just the fourth NAIA program to sweep the national titles at the same championship and thus ending Simon Fraser’s dominance.
"It doesn't get any better than this,” said CBU Head Coach Rick Rowland after the meet. “To win one is great, but to sweep is special. These kids have worked their tails off this year and wanted to win the whole thing from day one. We had incredible consistency the entire meet, and our depth is what shone through. I've never had a team this deep."
The men won their first national championship in dominating fashion with 752 points, the fourth-highest single-meet total in championship history. They won 18 of 20 events (and won a 19th before being DQ’d in the 400 medley relay). The 18 event titles set a new single-meet record, breaking the former standard of 17 set by Simon Fraser the previous year. Second place Lindenwood scored 272 points, giving the Lancers a 480-point margin of victory.
"We have had six years of being the bridesmaid on the men's side,” said Rowland. “There's nothing better than the first one. What a moment of elation when those guys got up on the podium with the banner. They were pumped, and they deserved it."
Meanwhile, the women won their second straight title with 577 points, nearly 150 more than second place.
Together, the Lancers racked up 29 national titles (out of 40 events) and earned 55 All-Americans in one of the most impressive national championship showings ever. The combined 629.5-point victory margin from both teams was at the time the largest combined margin of victory ever at an NAIA Championship dating back to 1981 when the women’s championship began.
CBU went on to sweep the championships in 2007 and 2008 and nobody did it again until this year when Oklahoma Baptist became the fifth school ever to sweep the men’s and women’s titles.
CBU and the transition to the NCAA series timeline
June 14 – Introduction to the series
June 18 – Moment No. 9 - 1999 Men's Water Polo
June 19 – Moment No. 8 - 2010 Baseball
June 20 – Moment No. 7 – 1974 Men’s Tennis
June 21 – Moment No. 6 – 2011 Women’s Golf
June 24 – Moment No. 5 – 2009 Softball
June 25 – Moment No. 4 – 2006 Men’s/Women’s Swimming and Diving
June 26 – Moment No. 3
June 27 – Moment No. 2
June 28 – Moment No. 1
July 1 – A comprehensive look back at more than 45 years with the NAIA
July 8 – A look back at the last three years of transition to the NCAA