The architect behind all of California Baptist University’s success in aquatics, Rick Rowland started the swimming and water polo programs in 1999-2000 and is now entering his 14th season as head coach of the men’s water polo team and both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.
CBU men’s water polo team competes against the nation’s top programs and is a part of the national ranking system that includes all NCAA schools. The men’s team has regularly been ranked in the top 20 during Rowland's tenure, and this past season's final ranking of No. 20 is their seventh straight season finishing in the top 20.
In 2007 and 2008, California Baptist hosted and claimed the NAIA Men’s Water Polo Invitational Tournament.
In 14 seasons, Rowland has led the men’s team to an overall record of 319-157 (.670) and a record of 269-141 (.656) against four-year varsity programs.
Rowland’s women’s teams went 162-106 (.604) overall and 147-101 (.593) against varsity teams in the first eight years he ran the program before stepping down after the 2007 women’s season. Combined, he has a career record of 408-236 (.634) overall and 345-217 (.614) against varsity teams.
He has coached three AWPCA All-Americans on the men's side and seven AWPCA All-American honorable mentions (7 men, 1 woman); a list that includes the top players in the NCAA. He has had a total of 100 players (56 men, 44 women) be named to the AWPCA All-Academic Team. He has also had four men’s players named to the CoSIDA All-Academic All-District Team.
Rowland collected his 300th career win as the men's coach with a 12-7 win at Vanguard on Nov. 11, 2011.
In terms of combined wins he captured his 100th career victory Feb. 24, 2001 with a 13-9 overtime win against Redlands on the women’s side. His 200th win came three years later on the men’s side with a 12-6 win over Arizona, Oct. 22, 2004. Rowland won his 300th career game in 2006 against Iona (12-5), March 10. He notched his 400th career victory over Golden West Community College on October 6, 2009.
In swimming, both Rowland's men's and women's teams have combined for 9 NAIA National titles over the course of his tenure with the men winning four (2006-09) and the women winning five (2005-08, 2011).
Rowland was named 2001 NAIA Coach of the Year as both teams placed second. He also earned women's Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and 2011, and was named Men's Coach of the Year in 2008.
His men have won 67 individual NAIA championships and 13 relay titles, while the women have won 41 individual crowns and six relay races. Under Rowland 51 different men and 43 different women have earned All-American honors.
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 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 in education from Azusa Pacific in 1999. He and his wife, Teri, have two children (Trevor, who is playing water polo for Rowland this season at CBU; and Meghan).