Jim Meads was a standout swimmer for the Pirates from 1956-60. He helped East Carolina to NAIA National Swimming Championships in 1957 and 1959. The 1957 national title was the first ever for an intercollegiate team at East Carolina. Also in 1959, Meads won an individual national championship in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Meads was named All-America in 1957 for the 400-yard relay and the 50-yard freestyle. He again received All-America accolades in 1959 for the same two events. It was a year that the 400-yard freestyle relay team set a new national record. Meads also ran track for the Pirates, participating in the high hurdles.