Missouri State swimming and diving assistant coach Chelsea Dirks-Ham spoke to Bears All-Access about the women's team's preparation before they begin action at the 2015 MVC Championship on Wednesday, Feb. 18, in Carbondale, Ill.
Chelsea Dirks-Ham begins her fourth season on head coach Dave Collins' staff and second as an assistant coach for the Bears in 2014-15. Previously, she served as a graduate assistant in 2012-13 and volunteer assistant in 2011-12.
In addition to working with the men's and women's stroke groups, Dirks-Ham has played an integral role in the Bears' recruiting efforts.
In her time as a graduate assistant coach, Missouri State continued its prominence in the stroke events at the MVC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. The Bears have owned the medley relays, extending its streak to 11 straight victories in the 200 medley, while they have won nine of the past 10 400 medley relays. In 2012-13, Missouri State compiled five NCAA consideration times along with seven individual conference titles. With the exception of the 100 fly, the Bears nearly swept the stroke events at the 2013 MVC Championships in Carbondale, Ill.
In 2012-13 alone, the women set new varsity records in six stroke events, in addition to five Valley championship records.
On the men's side, the Dirks-Ham has been involved with the successful postseason runs by Paul Le and Uvis Kalnins. Both set new school records at the 2014-15 NCAA Championships, while the 2012-13 campaign ended on a high note with Le becoming the Bears' first NCAA qualifier since 2005. Not only that, Le also became the first swimmer in school history to score points at the NCAA Championships with a top-16 finish in the 200 back and earn Honorable Mention All-America recognition.
During her time in Springfield, Dirks-Ham has also coached age-group swimmers for the Missouri State Aquatics club team.
Dirks-Ham remains one of the most dominant and decorated swimmers in Missouri State women's swimming & diving history. During her collegiate career, Dirks-Ham became a four-time All-MVC first-team selection and totaled 13 gold medals. She also set numerous school and conference records along the way. As a senior, she captained the Bears to their fourth-consecutive MVC title and eighth in a nine-year span. Her MSU record in the 100 butterfly (55.34), set at the 2009 MVC Championships, still stands today.
A native of Lawrence, Kan., Dirks-Ham earned her bachelor's degree in exercise & movement science in 2011 and is currently working on her master's in health administration.