Chris Bals, Geena Freriks Complete Ball State Swimming & Diving Coaching Staff

Photo Courtesy: Ball State Swimming & Diving

Ball State swimming & diving head coach J. Agnew has completed his staff for the upcoming season with the hiring of Chris Bals as an assistant coach and the addition of Geena Freriks as a graduate assistant coach.

Bals, a graduate assistant coach for the Cardinals for the past two seasons, has helped Ball State student-athletes break seven program records during his time on staff. This past season, the men’s program scored its highest point total at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships since the 2006 campaign. In addition, the women’s squad achieved its best MAC Championships point total since the 2014 season.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Chris Bals for four years as a collegiate swimmer and two years as my graduate assistant.” Agnew said. “His work ethic, passion for the sport, and drive to help student-athletes excel in and out of the pool are unparalleled. We are building something special here at Ball State and Coach Chris Bals is a driving force in our Cardinal family.”

Before joining the Ball State staff in the fall of 2018, Bals was a standout collegiate swimmer for Agnew and head coach Don Ross at Purdue University. A four-year letterwinner for the Boilermakers, Bals finished his career ranked fourth in program history in the 100 breaststroke (53.24) and fifth in the 200 breaststroke (1:57.14). He also accounted for 59 team points at the Big Ten Championships over his career.

“I am very excited to be able to remain at Ball State, and to continue working towards the goals our coaching staff and the team have set for this program,” Chris Bals said. “I would like to thank Coach Agnew and our administration for giving me this opportunity.”

A 2018 graduate of Purdue with a degree in accounting, Bals was a 2018 recipient of the prestigious Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a three-time College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Honorable Mention, Bals is currently pursuing his master’s in business administration at Ball State.

Freriks will join the Ball State staff after a highly successful swimming career at the University of Kentucky, where she was a two-time Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion. A four-time All-SEC selection, earning first-team honors in 2017 and 2018, Freriks was the 2017 league champion in the 200 freestyle and the 2018 conference champion in the 500 freestyle. She also garnered First Team All-America accolades as a sophomore after anchoring the 800 freestyle relay to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

“Geena has proven herself as a tremendous leader both in and out of the water,” Agnew said. “Her positive attitude and energy are infectious. We are fortunate to have a graduate assistant who brings so much technical and competitive experience to our student-athletes.”


Geena Freriks. Photo Courtesy: Elliott Hess/Kentucky Athletics

As a senior in 2019, Freriks claimed second-team all-conference honors after bronze medal finishes in the 500 freestyle, 400 medley relay, and 800 freestyle relay. She also earned All-SEC Second Team honors as a freshman in 2016, placing second at the SEC Championships in the 200 freestyle to become UK’s first freshman female medalist.

“I am thrilled to continue my involvement in the swimming world as a graduate assistant coach for Ball State University,” Geena Freriks said. “My goal is to further the development of our collegiate swimmers to help the program thrive while having a positive impact on their careers as student-athletes. Swimming has always been a passion of mine, and I cannot wait to dedicate my time as a motivator and mentor to the athletes here. I look forward to working with J., Chris, and Nick this season.”

Overall, Freriks finished her Kentucky career with individual program records in the 500 freestyle (4:37.04), 1000 freestyle (9:30.78), and 1650 freestyle (15:57.64), as well as relay records in the 400 freestyle relay (3:14.59), 800 freestyle relay (6:56.23), and 200 medley relay (1:36.76). In the classroom, she was a four-time CSCAA Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America First Team honoree.

A two-time Olympic Trials qualifier who holds the 19th-fastest time in the world in the women’s 1000 freestyle, Freriks graduated from Kentucky in the spring of 2020 with a degree in dietetics and a minor in business.

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Ball State Swimming & Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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Roger S. Stark
3 years ago

Proud of North Central Ohio native Geena!

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