Swimming & Diving Coaching Staff

Head Swimming & Diving Coach

Peter Casares

Phone: 207-786-8264 | Email: pcasares@bates.edu

Peter Casares joined Bates as the head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach and aquatics director in 2007. He is well respected in the swimming world, both as an accomplished Division III All-American swimmer and as a passionate coach and tireless recruiter. Peter’s expertise and love for the sport have brought enthusiasm and national visibility to the Bates program.

In 2018, the men's and women's swim teams both made program history on the final day of the NCAA Division III Championships, with the best national finish ever for the men's team and a program-record sixth-place finish in the women's 400-yard freestyle relay.

The Bates men finished the meet with 48 points to claim 14th place out of 53 scoring teams, the best national finish in men's team history. The Bates women scored 76 points to finish 12th out of 51 teams, the Bobcat women's third straight top-13 finish and fifth straight top-17 finish.

In 2017, the Bates women's team finished the four-day meet in 13th place out of 51 scoring teams, their fourth straight top-17 national finish. And senior Sara Daher concluded her transcendent college swimming career with possibly her finest day, breaking three team records and notching her 22nd and 23rd career All-America honors. The Bates men continued their rise, scoring 27 points to finish in 24th place out of 52 teams.

The 2015-16 season saw the women's team finish third at the NESCAC Championships, their second best finish ever behind the previous season's second place finish. Meanwhile the men's team concluded the meet in fifth place, matching their program-best showing from a year ago. 

At the NCAA Championships in North Carolina, Bates' record number of nine women participating at NCAAs came home with 22 All-America honors, counting four relay teams as four apiece. Bates also set three team records at the meet. The Bobcats finished in 12th place out of 55 scoring teams, the second best finish in program history, just behind the previous year's 11th place finish. Bates men's team sophomore Riley Ewing finished his second trip to the NCAA Championships with a 23rd-place showing in the 200-yard back stroke.

The 2014-15 season saw the women's and men's teams break program records that still stand today. The women's swimming and diving team secured second place at the 2015 NESCAC Swimming and Diving Championships at Wesleyan University, the highest finish for the Bobcats in the 15-year history of the meet. This was the first time in team history that all 24 women scored at the meet. The men's swimming and diving team took fifth place, notching the highest finish in program history at the NESCAC Men's Swimming and Diving Championship at Middlebury College. 

At the NCAA Championships in Texas, the eight-athlete Bates women's team finished the meet with 91 points to place 11th out of 46 scoring teams, between 10th-place Gustavus Adolphus (99.5) and 12th-place Wheaton (Ill.) College (84). The four members of the Bates men's team scored 16 points to finish in 37th place among 54 teams.

The 2013-14 season was another step in the gradual rise in prominence Casares has overseen in the Bates swimming and diving program. The women’s team finished fourth at NESCAC Championships, the team’s best in the 14-year history of the meet at the time, and Casares was named NESCAC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year. The men’s team also had its best-ever showing at NESCACs at the time, finishing only one point shy of finishing fifth for the first time in team history. The breakthrough season continued at the NCAA Championships, where a then team-record five athletes competed. Matthew Gagne was the first Bates male to compete at NCAAs since 2004, while the women’s team placed a healthy 17th out of 51 scoring teams. Sara Daher ’17 placed fifth in the 400 individual medley, sixth in the 200 IM and 13th in the 200 backstroke for three individual All-America honors, while Julia Smachlo ’17 won two of her own, finishing 15th in both the 500 free and 1,650 free. Finally the 800 freestyle relay team placed 10th, granting additional All-America honors to Daher, Smachlo, Caroline Depew ’16 and Lindsey Prelgovisk ’16. 

On Sept. 19, 2014, Coach Casares was inducted into the Hall of Honor at his alma mater, Gettysburg College.

Prior to coming to Bates, Peter was the North Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, and he holds the distinction of being one of only three coaches in NCAA history to win a national championship for both men and women in the same year. During his career at Bates the team size has more than doubled, over 60 varsity records have been broken, and each team has experienced a steady climb up the conference ladder. The 2011-12 season turned out to be a banner year with over 20 varsity records broken, the women claiming the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) title, and the highest finishes at the conference meet in nearly a decade. At the same time, both the men’s and women’s teams experienced their highest overall grade point average, and has earned Academic All-American team status for the last nine consecutive semesters.


Associate Head Coach

Vanessa Williamson '05

Email: vwilliam@bates.edu

In April 2016, Vanessa Williamson was promoted to associate head swimming and diving coach after serving as an assistant coach the previous four years. 

A 2005 Bates graduate and eight-time All-America performer in the butterfly and individual medleys, Williamson joined head coach Peter Casares's coaching staff in 2012 after coaching at the high school and club level in California for five years. Casares said he recognized Williamson's coaching talent right away. 

"After watching her coach her first year I handed over nearly half of the team to her and put her in charge of the sprint group," he said. "Her first year training that group led to many successes and she immediately followed it up her second year as Vanessa not only coached three NESCAC champions in the sprint events [Matt Gagne in the 50 butterfly, Whitney Paine in the 50 backstroke and Logan McGill in the 50 freestyle], but Bates' first ever NESCAC record holder, Logan McGill in the 50 free."

"This year Vanessa moved to the endurance group and led those swimmers to many of their best performances to date - with three individual invites to the NCAA meet [Melissa Paione, Sara Daher, Hope Logan]. Her ability to not only train athletes, but keep them happy and motivated has played a huge role in her athletes' successes."


Diving Coach

Mike Bartley

Email: mbartle1@maine.rr.com 

Mike Bartley, an Olympic trials diver in 1964 and longtime high school coach, has directed the diving program at Bates since 1991. The 1999 New England and 2001 and 2009 NESCAC Diving Coach of the Year, Bartley has developed several top divers at Bates, including seven-time men’s All-America Andrew Hastings ’02, six-time women’s All-America Kara Seaton ’05, and eight-time All-America Kelsey Lamdin ’09.

Bartley won the U.S. Masters Platform Championship in 1987 and finished in second place in the 1989 World Masters Games in Denmark, and also successfully competed in other international meets in the Soviet Union, Japan, Canada and throughout the U.S. over a 40-plus year active diving career. Bartley also dived professionally with the “Big Splash Water Spectacular” in Hollywood Beach, Fla., in 1968.


Assistant Coach

Bill Wallace

Coach Bill Wallace first joined Bates swimming program during his sabbatical year from St. Andrew’s High School in Middletown, Delaware. He returned to the Bates coaching staff in 2016.

While at St. Andrew’s, Coach Wallace experienced tremendous success in leading his program to two top-three finishes at the state meet. He has also coached his team to four consecutive 200 free relay state championships.

Wallace has also produced several All-Americans and state champions that have gone on to great success at the Divisions I and III levels. Coach Wallace was the high school coach of Division III’s most highly decorated swimmer, Olympic Trials finalist Lyndsay Paine.