Wolf Pack swimming welcomes British talent who’s rewriting record books


Courtesy of Brendan Heffernan

Photo of swimmer and history pre-law major Harvey Quiddington is pictured at the University Sports Complex pool.

Brendan Heffernan

When Harvey Quiddington stepped onto Loyola’s campus for the first time last summer, he’d already competed at the highest levels of British amateur swimming. But as he got settled into his dorm, Quiddington was thinking about the fact that he’d never competed inside the fluorescent-lit thunderdome of an American big box store.

Quiddington answered that challenge his first morning in New Orleans, demonstrating the can-do attitude expected from a scholarship endurance athlete. The expat walked nearly four miles there and back from campus to the Tchoupitoulas Street Walmart Supercenter, where Quiddington said he got his first taste of American culture.

“I got here, fell asleep, woke up, and walked to Walmart,” said Quiddington, a history pre-law freshman. “It’s been great, I’ve gotten to do a lot of obnoxiously American things.”

In the months since that stroll along the Mississippi, the London native has only been obnoxious toward opposing coaches tasked with finding swimmers to put against him. Quiddington’s been a consistent difference-maker for the Wolf Pack, setting school records in the 200-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard individual medley, while notching 10 first-place finishes during the regular season. He also maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout his first semester in New Orleans.

Quiddington said he knew he wanted to swim for an American college several years before deciding on Loyola, which stood out to him because of its academics and name recognition. Prior to beginning his collegiate career, Quiddington had placed as high as seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke at the United Kingdom’s national swim meet.

While preparing to swim at the Sun Conference Championship in Columbus, Georgia, which takes place on Feb. 9-11, Quiddington said that Loyola has felt like a perfect fit.

“I feel like the best decision I’ve ever made has been coming out here and seeing what’s going on,” Quiddington said.

Head swim coach Thomas Natal said that while he knew he recruited a talented swimmer, observing what Quiddington has brought to the Wolf Pack has been a wonderful surprise.

“I think in every aspect Harvey was better than I could have thought,” Natal said. “He’s a super hard-working young man in the classroom as well as in the pool. He’s such a good teammate, very encouraging to those around him, and just a nice guy to be around.”

Quiddington posted times in the 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard individual medley, which put him in the top 20 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in both categories according to Swimcloud’s swim meet database. Those strong showings have put him in a comfortable position to qualify for competition in both events at the NAIA national meet next month, according to Natal.

Quiddington set those times while adjusting to more than just the new accents and access to bigger bags of junk food. In England, Quiddington raced in “long course” pools measured at 50 meters. In the NAIA competition, Loyola swims in “short course” pools measured at 25 yards. Swimming in a smaller pool means the races Quiddington grew up swimming have a completely different rhythm, Natal said.

“It was almost like starting a painting from scratch,“ Natal said. “In his events it’s almost a completely different race. It’s much more taxing on the body, it’s a lot more fast tempo. Of all the strokes, in my opinion, breaststroke is the most different between long course meters and short course yards.”

Quiddington adjusted to American racing by adopting a more high-intensity training program, which he said he prefers to the distance work he did with his club in London.

Quiddington’s work ethic caught the attention of his teammate Tate Bolden, another freshman who’s claimed a pair of Wolf Pack school records himself. Bolden said Quiddington has set a high standard in training sessions and brought a unique dynamic to the locker room.

“European competitions are really interesting, being able to learn about that from him has been really cool,” said Bolden, a graphic design major. “He’s definitely brought a very interesting dynamic to our group of friends.”

Quiddington said that Bolden and the rest of his teammates have been a crucial source of support throughout his time abroad. Quiddington said one of the first things he tried to do with his new American friends was challenge their negative perceptions of British cooking.

“I’ve introduced them all to the full English breakfast several times now and most of them are fans,” Quiddington said. “I haven’t shown them the black pudding though, but if you try it you’ve got to love it.”

Loyola’s swim program is a more team-oriented environment than his club in London, which Quiddington said he loves. He’s even picked up a new nickname from his American teammates: “squid,” a play on both his last name and comfort underwater.

“Everyone chants ‘squid’ when I’m behind the blocks,” Quiddington said. “I’ll make a turn and hear ‘squid!’ It cracks me up.”

Quiddington said his ultimate goal for his freshman season is to make the final cut at nationals in both of his best events. Natal said he believes Quiddington will be able to accomplish all his goals and more before his time in Uptown is finished.

“Harvey’s already taken down several records and I see him taking down more,” Natal said. “While he’s been successful this year, man, it’s going to be fun watching him the next few years.”