Cal Hires Ledecky’s Coach Yuri Suguiyama as New Men’s Assistant

And the other shoe dropped. Putting an end to at least one train of the coaching carousel today, Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden has hired NCAP coach Yuri Suguiyama as his newest assistant.

Suguiyama’s star rocketed this summer as the coach of 15-year old Katie Ledecky, who won Olympic gold in the women’s 800 free and broke Janet Evans’ American Record. As the head coach of CUBU’s Georgetown site, he went from somewhat of a largely anonymous, albeit solid, coaching role to America’s hottest coaching name. Among many other honors, he was recently named the Potomac Valley Swimming Coach of the Year.

“We approached this opportunity looking for ways to enhance and improve our program,” Durden said of the hire. ”As we moved through the month of September, it became more and more evident that Yuri is the coach to help us do just that. I have watched Yuri’s career over the last six years. His intellect, his organization, and the culture he promotes within his environment are the very aspects we value within our Cal swimming family. We happily welcome him to the pool deck, and I look forward to working side by side with such a great coach and great person.”

With so many coaching changes happening so late in the year (pushed back because of the Olympics), at some point there were going to be a few big-name club coaches making the jump to the NCAA level to wrap things up.

Suguiyama, though not to be pigeonholed into one specialty, obviously has had success with training distance swimmers: which fits right into where Cal is moving with recruiting big-name distance swimmers like Janardan Burns.

Fans of the Cal women will find this move just as interesting, as the speculation about a possible Ledecky-to-Cal commitment down the line will be an obvious leap. Of course, there’s plenty of time before Ledecky has to make a college decision.

Suguiyama will replace Greg Meehan, who took the head coaching job with the Stanford women a few weeks ago.

In a fun little twist of fate, while Durden was at Maryland, he coached Suguiyama’s sister Erica.

We’re working on finding out who Ledecky will train with at NCAP now that Suguiyama has moved on, and will bring you that report as soon as the information is available.

Garrett interviews Yuri Suguiyama, pt. 1.
Garrett interviews Yuri Suguiyama, pt. 2.
Garrett interviews Katie Ledecky.



  1. USSwimFan says:

    Wow…great move Durden.

  2. RetiredCoach says:

    Wow! Roll on you Bears!

  3. duckduckgoose says:

    Durden coached sprints and Meehan coached distance. Pretty solid replacement to say the least.

  4. Coach says:

    He was more than likely guaranteed a spot on the World Champs coaching roster for the next two years. Not sure why he would give up the opportunity to lead the country’s next best American distance swimmer to be an assistant coach.

    Huge pick up by Cal.

    • Coaches says:

      That’s what I thought too. Must have been tough decision. Hope Ledecky/NCAP finds new coach that is good.

    • beachmouse says:

      I wonder if the fallout from the whole CB revelations nudged him a little toward looking at other job opportunities. It can’t be as much fun going to work every day as it was before the scandals hit.

  5. don says:

    Great move for Yuri and great choice by Dave. Yuri is a young talented choice and I see him in the “big picture”,. Amazing as Ledecky is, it’s like being in a fishbowl and it is easy to be seen as a one athlete coach (Benecki and Ziegler).
    What an amazing opportunity for Yuri and for Cal, it brings a balnce to their program . Durden has been broadening his recruiting base, becoming more balanced and losing that “Cal is for sprinters” label that has been associated with Cal swimming.
    Great choice by a great coach. Roll you bears!

  6. Sherril says:

    Just learned this today from Yuri himself. It’s a bit heartbreaking knowing that a coach I’ve been with even before the Georgetown Prep site was founded is leaving to join Cal as the new assistant coach, but I suppose it’s only natural for a great, dedicated coffee addict like him to rise to this kind of position.

    After he leaves (which is sometime next week), all I can say is godspeed. You deserved it.

  7. LATSCOACH says:

    WOW. I’m surprised he left. I hope Katie can adapt to swimming without him

  8. ADowney says:

    Congratulations to Yuri on the Cal position. He’s as talented and driven a coach as you can find today; I was privileged to swim under him for the very, very brief time that I did, and I have always maintained an enormous amount of respect for him since then. Like a lot of swimmers back home in the DC area, I’m sad to see him part ways with Katie (and the rest of his group, with which he’s done a great job), but I know they’ll be alright–those two are made of tougher stuff than any of us. Best of luck to him at Cal.

  9. liquidassets says:

    “In a fun little twist of fate, while Durden was at Maryland, he coached Suguiyama’s sister Erica.”

    Sounds like way more than a twist of fate, and likely a big factor in their relationship. By the way, what grade is Ledecky? Junior?

  10. joeb says:

    This is just a generic question but this scenario brings up the point:
    Why does a successful club coach have to do the college route? Wouldn’t coaching an Olympic champion and other great swimmers be enough? It can’t be the money! With standard of living, etc his salary with the club has to be as much as or more than at Cal.
    Just food for thought.

    • swimfan50 says:

      I would think he has aspirations of being a head coach in college someday and this move will likely open those doors. I don’t know any “club only” coaches that have been named to coach the Olympic team and this move will start him on that path too. In my mind this was a great hire for Cal and really a no brainer for Yuri.

      • Chest Rockwell says:

        You beat me to the punch!

      • duckduckgoose says:

        Yuri swam at UNC and Cal/Berkeley are not totally dissimilar from UNC/Chapel Hill. Austin, Ann Arbor, and Madison also fill the bill, but Cal’s the current king, so why not go someplace which is somewhat familiar and position yourself for a potential dream job down the line? Cal recruits nationally with an emphasis instate and those recruiting ties could prove to be invaluable when Yuri’s running his own program.

    • Chest Rockwell says:

      Food for thought – name the last head coach of an Olympic Team that wasn’t a Collegiate level coach. I’m not saying that is his goal, but if you want to be a player on an international level, being part of a top tier NCAA program is a strong move. Granted, some assistants come from the clubs, but they are usually brought on as personal coaches of young swimmers.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

      joeb – I think when you factor in the money that comes from the summer camps, college coaches do really well. I also am not sure the DC area is a whole lot cheaper than the bay area to live in, either.

      For some people, it’s job satisfaction. Coaching 18 & unders, you just aren’t going to get that many opportunities to coach Olympians/world class swimmers. At Cal, he knows he’ll be coaching at least 8 or so every year. There’s also a lot of prestige to the outside world to coaching college (don’t we all want other people to think we have a cool job?). Working with adults can be enticing too after so many years of working with kids. Recruiting can be very rewarding too.

      • Swim4fun says:

        FYI, Cal is located in Berkeley which is in the SF east bay. Stanford is in Palo Alto which is in the South Bay. It’s a fairly long drive from one campus to the other.

        Congratulations to Yuri and Cal.

  11. long time swim person says:

    Lets see live in DC under the continuing cloud of the CUBU mess….. or move to Cal and get a start in a great city and great college program….

  12. swimfan62 says:

    Yuri’s facial expressions and voice sounds so much like Dave it is erie in some ways! This will be a great fit for a great program!

  13. Coach says:

    It’s a great move for Yuri, and maybe in 3 years, he will be a head college coach somewhere reunited with Katie.

  14. Lost Translation says:

    does this sound eerily familiar to Paul Yetter @ Auburn??????

    Not that I am bashing Yuri but club vs. college is two different animals

    • Coach says:

      Not even close. Paul has to be the head coach. He couldn’t work under Bob Bowman, and he couldn’t work under Brett Hawke. Also, Yuri’s ego isn’t even half the size of Paul’s, and while Yuri is an outstanding head coach, he is humble enough to be an assistant coach and soak up the learning opportunity.

      College and club are two different beasts, but many have transitioned successfully, and Yuri will not be an exception.

  15. CoachMatt says:

    Can’t beleive Katie’s new coach has yet to be revealed. Thought SwimSwam would have dug this up by now…. I’ve certainly hear the rumors. Guess they’re only rumors at this point.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

      We’ve heard the same ones. We’re trying to get someone to confirm them.

    • bb says:

      It’s a great opportunity for Yuri, but this is a very sudden and wrenching change for the whole training group, including Katie. They’re in good shape but there’s definitely a cascade that has to happen.

  16. Swimterested says:

    uhh…. what care to elaborate on what the rumors are?

  17. Opinionated says:

    It makes me a little sad to hear that the only route to an Olympic/World Championship coaching position is through the Division I NCAA ranks.

    DI coaches are skilled and experienced, but they get the best athletes in the country at the point when they are entering their prime. The developmental coaches who spent years creating them often get little or no credit.

    I wish there was a way to get them the recognition and accolades they deserve.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

      They do get cash money…so they aren’t totally left out in the cold. There is a grant program that rewards up to three coaches per swimmer.

      That’s already better than most development coaches of pro athletes get…

      • WHOKNOWS says:

        I have seen some age group coaches get $7.000 a year because they coached Olympians or World Record holders in their younger years.

        • Opinionated says:

          Short-term money is nice, but having “Oympic coach” or “World Championship coach” on your resume is probably worth $7,000 per year in salary to a club coach applying for a job. Reputation and resume will get you guaranteed money, which trumps incentives every time. If you were hiring, wouldn’t you offer more to that coach?

          • Steve Nolan says:

            I mean, it’s not like you wouldn’t be able to put “Coach of (Olympian)” on that resume. Not as glamorous, obviously, but if you’re applying for a swim coaching gig you’d hope they’d get properly credited with it.

    • anonymous says:

      There are a select few–Bob Bowman is certainly one of them (I know he coached at Michigan but I’m still under the impression that he did that partly to give Michael a change of environment…part of the natural growing up process). Todd Schmitz has said that he likes club coaching and hopes to continue expanding the STARS club—and that he doesn’t plan to coach at the college level. (Many speculated colleges would offer him a position in order to attract Missy).

      But unfortunately it doesn’t seem like a well-worn path unless the stars align and a swimming prodigy comes along (under their tutelage, of course).

      Wish Katie (and the rest of NCAP) the best of luck! And congrats to Cal and Yuri!

    • RIPPIN says:

      The old college coach vs club coach (in terms of who is better) is an interesting one. Colleges do get the highest level by-products of knowledgeable club coaches who often create/develop fast swimmers rather than be ‘handed’ talented,hard working athletes (not to mention older and more experienced than 18 and under).

      I think I just made an argument for the club coach (or at least one(s) who consistenly produces the top 18 and unders in the US). From personal experience, I see far more college swimmers fail rather than succeed from D1-D3, but there are a number a variables outside the realm of coaching that fall into the reasons for the ‘failed’ college swimmer.

  18. DistanceSwimmer says:

    I swim at Georgetown Prep where Katie used to train every day before she won gold and can tell you for a fact that she is no longer there every day. Maybe once a week that is all. I believe she trains at AU the other days. I don’t know why Yuri no longer coached Katie on a regular basis after London but find it hard to believe this was a decision made by either Yuri or Katie but rather another idiotic move on the part of CUBU/NCAP and maybe the final straw for Yuri. A HUGE loss for DC/MD/VA age group swimmers. I saw him coach every day. Fantastic coach and equally impressive person.

    • Jg says:

      What /where is AU.?

      BTW if I have not mentioned it before that was an amazing performance in London.

      Even for older swimmers this stellar stuff is very unsettling . Very few return to their ld schedule & ways.

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:

        Jg – AU is American University, another branch of the same club. Tim Kelly is the coach there, and it’s where Yuri previously worked before he got his own site.

        • Jg says:

          Thanks. I took the oportunity to read up on AU again. I have a liking for understated methodist architecture. Plenty to see there.

    • Chill out says:

      As a member of Katie’s training group I can say that this was not an idiotic move by NCAP but an unexpected career change by Yuri. Your confusion about Katie’s training habits stems from the fact that Katie and her group train at American University and Connecticut Belair, and rarely at GP, during the summer. Katie’s been making a normal transition and is swimming faster than ever.

      • DistanceSwimmer says:

        Katie may be swimming faster than ever but that’s not my point. My point is that she is no longer training on a regular basis with Yuri. She swam at Georgetown Prep all last year (where Yuri coaches) and yes she does swim at Connecticut Belair but only in the summer (it’s an outdoor pool). It just seems odd that she would no longer be training with Yuri given the success of the past year. Perhaps it was a decision that was mutually agreeable to all. If you know why Yuri is no longer her coach please enlighten us.

        • bb says:

          Well distance swimmer you are incorrect. Katie is training with Yuri regularly and with her normal group. When she swims at AU it is with her group when they swim there. You may realize that she has had a number of special events in the post-Olympic period and she’s missed a few days of practice for them — but visits to the White House and the like are about the biggest drama going on in the group with the notable exception of Yuri’s departure to Cal.

        • Chill out says:

          My point was that she has been regularly training with Yuri post-Olympic. I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that she hasn’t been.

  19. DistanceSwimmer says:

    I am only saying that I swim at Prep 3x per week and since this season started, she has been there maybe once per week, whereas before London she was there almost every day. But If you’re in her training group I defer to you. Glad to hear her training is going well, with or without Yuri.

    • 1swimmer says:

      I’m sorry, Katie has been training with Yuri at the Prep Site regularly. I too have a swimmer in her group and can absolutely tell you she’s been there training regularly. Both Katie and Yuri have been busy with speaking engagements associated with their wonderful win at the Olympics. Also, the team have new schedules to maximize practices for each age group. If you are only there 3 times a week, you only have half the picture. Katie and her group have practices available 7 days a week. (Sundays at a different location which is offered to give kids more homework time in the week.) Please do not make assumptions without knowing all the facts.

    • completelyconquered says:

      lol @ I swim at whatever pool you’re talking about 3 times a week and I never see her!

  20. Penelope says:

    hey everyone– I know Katie better than you do!! lameeee

  21. bobo gigi says:

    Great pick for Cal but Yuri Suguiyama deserves to be head coach of something. He has made a fantastic great incredible amazing job with Katie Ledecky. I hope it will not affect her in the future and she will continue to improve. Don’t forget I have predicted 4 gold medals for her next year in Barcelona in the 400 free, the 800 free, the 1500 free and the 4X200 free relay.

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