The architect behind all of California Baptist University’s success in aquatics, Rick Rowland started the swimming and water polo programs in the 1999-2000 school year and is now in his eighth season as head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams.
As one of only six NAIA schools to field a water polo program, the CBU men’s and women’s water polo teams compete against the nation’s top programs and are part of the national ranking system that includes the NCAA schools. The men’s team has regularly been ranked in the top 20 during the past five years, and its highest end-of-season ranking was No. 14 in 2001. The women finished No. 17 in 2001.
In nine seasons, Rowland has led the men’s team to an overall record of 194-111 (.636) and a record of 152-98 (.608) against 4-year varsity programs. Rowland’s women’s teams went 162-106 (.604) overall and 147-101 (.593) against varsity teams. Combined, Rowland’s water polo teams are 338-257 (.568) overall and 288-184 (.610) against varsity teams.
In swimming, his women's team has won four straight national titles while the men have three. His men have won 48 individual NAIA championships and nine relay titles, while the women have won 35 individual crowns and five relay races. He has had 45 men earn a total of 291 All-American honors, and 36 women earn 271 All-American honors.
Academically, Rowland has coached 33 American Water Polo Coaches Association All-Academic selections (15 men and 28 women) and 30 NAIA Swimming Scholar-Athletes. Rowland started on campus during the 1998-99 season as Director of Aquatics and spent one year recruiting and starting the program from scratch. Previously, he coached at Santa Margarita High School from 1993-98 and Villa Park High School from 1988-93. He was also a high school and intermediate school teacher during this time.
From 1982-85, Rowland was the assistant coach for men’s water polo and swimming at Pepperdine, his alma mater (his father, Rick Sr., was the head coach). Rowland graduated from Pepperdine with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and kinesiology in 1981. He was a standout swimmer and water polo player there while playing for his father.
Rowland also earned a master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific in 1999. He and his wife, Teri, have two children (Trevor, 17; and Meghan, 13).