Paul Graham enters his fourth season as the head coach at Cleveland State after being named to the position May 2, 2014.
During the 2016-17 season, Graham led the Viking men to their highest point total at the Horizon League Championships in four years (663) while the women’s team improved two spots from the year prior.
Graham once again oversaw a dominant effort by Philipp Sikatzki at the League meet. Sikatzki became the first athlete in League history to be named Men’s Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year in consecutive seasons. Sikatzki qualified for the NCAA Championships for a second consecutive season and was the top performer at NCAA’s in the 100 butterfly that did not hail from a Power Five school.
Sikatzki was one of five Vikings to post a NCAA qualifying standard during the 2016-17 season. Those five student-athletes combined to surpass NCAA standards in 10 different events.
Graham helped his student-athletes to 10 school-record performances during the season. At the League meet, the men swept the breaststroke events for the first time in seven years while Molly McNamara’s record effort in the 200 butterfly saw CSU break a 17-year title drought in that event.
Graham was named the Horizon League Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year in 2016 after leading the Vikings to a runner-up finish, a vast improvement from the year prior. Graham guided Philipp Sikatzki to the highest honor in CSU history as he earned All-America accolades with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in the 100 Butterfly. Sikatzki, who swam in two other events at the NCAA Championships, was also named Horizon League Men’s Swimmer of the League Championships and Horizon League Men’s Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year.
Graham guided his student-athletes eight conference titles this past season (individual or relays), increasing the total he’s overseen at CSU to 15. He also helped Molly McNamara to Horizon League Women’s Freshman of the Year honors in 2016.
“It is a great honor to be named the head coach at Cleveland State University,” said Graham when he was named the head coach. “The swimming and diving program has achieved amazing success and I look forward to continuing that legacy with the help of the University, athletic administration, alumni and current athletes.”
Graham came to CSU after spending the previous 14 years as the head swimming and diving coach at Ashland University.
In his 14 years at Ashland, Graham led his teams to 13 top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships and a pair of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference titles. In the 2013-14 season, he led the men's squad to an 18th place finish at the national championships while his women’s team placed 20th. He took 10 swimmers to nationals that season, a group that claimed 13 All-America honors.
From 2009-12, the women's squad finished no lower than seventh at nationals, including a fifth place showing in 2011, the best finish in program history.
The 2010 NCAA Women's Coach of the Year, Graham has coached more than 100 All-America athletes, including his women's 200 freestyle relay team that won national championships in 2010, 2011 and 2013. He also coached the women's 100 backstroke national champion in 2012 and the national champion in the men's 50 freestyle in 2007.
The GLIAC Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2010, Graham's teams posted 32 out of 38 team records during his tenure at Ashland.
Graham's teams also excelled outside of the pool with the women's team sporting a 3.36 cumulative grade point average and the men having a 3.12 GPA. He mentored five Academic All-Americans, including Sean McGraw who was one of two Ashland swimmers to earn an NCAA post-graduate scholarship under Graham's direction. McGraw, who earned the honor in 2009-10, became the first AU student-athlete to receive the honor since 1991.
He also guided 23-time All-American Julie Widmann, who earned the incredible honor of Women's At-Large Academic All-American of the Year.
Graham has also coached three student-athletes who earned GLIAC Commissioner Awards, as well as an Olympic Trial participant and World Championship Trial qualifier.
Outside of the college swimming season, Graham developed the AU Swim School, which was a popular program tailored to teach the basics of swimming to youngsters.
Prior to arriving at Ashland, Graham was an assistant coach at Horizon League member Wright State from 1995-00, helping the Raiders to five conference championships. He directed the middle-distance and distance training group at WSU, while supervising and coordinating the university's swimming lesson programs. He was also active in recruiting and developed and implemented training plans.
Graham, who is a member of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, earned a Bachelor's of Arts in sports management and marketing from Marshall in 1988 where he also competed on the swim team.