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2018 Swammy Awards: U.S. COACH OF THE YEAR: Dave Durden, California Aquatics
This one is actually a lot closer than it appears, with a spirited battle between the two recently-announced 2020 Olympic head coaches for Team USA – Cal’s Dave Durden and Stanford’s Greg Meehan.
Durden gets the slight edge, though, capping off a Swammy awards that saw the California Aquatics program earn U.S. Swimmer of the Year, the U.S.’s only Breakout Swimmer of the Year honorable mention and the U.S. Coach of the Year award.
(Side note: This award – part of our international coaches of the year honors across various continents and countries – is more focused on international performances. For those wishing to make NCAA-heavy arguments, you may be more interested in our NCAA Coach of the Year Swammy awards from earlier this month.)
Durden’s men won two individual and three relay gold medals at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, including a backstroke sweep from Ryan Murphy. Breakout star Andrew Seliskar added a silver medal individually, and Murphy, Seliskar and Nathan Adrian all swam on winning relays.
In addition, a much-talked-about summer for the Cal men saw Golden Bears spread across USA Swimming’s upcoming international travel rosters. Durden put six men on the 2018 Pan Pacs team (Murphy, Adrian, Seliskar, Josh Prenot, Jacob Pebley and Sean Grieshop), five on the 2019 World Champs team (Adrian, Seliskar, Murphy, Prenot and Pebley), six on the 2019 World University Games team (Grieshop, Connor Hoppe, Michael Jensen, Trenton Julian, Bryce Mefford and Nick Norman) and four more on the 2019 U.S. Pan American Games team (Adrian, Daniel Carr, Matthew Josa and Tom Shields). All fourteen of those men qualified out of this summer’s U.S. Nationals.
In no particular order
- Greg Meehan, Stanford Swimming: Meehan made this a tough fight. His Stanford women won three golds, two silvers and two bronzes individually at Pan Pacs, plus three silver relay medals and one bronze relay medal. That included a meet-high three individual golds from Katie Ledecky. He matched Durden’s output with five 2019 U.S. World Champs qualifiers (Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Katie Drabot, Brooke Forde and Lia Neal) and wasn’t far behind with two WUGs qualifiers (Ella Eastin and Megan Byrnes) and one Pan Ams qualifier (Neal). Meehan gets special consideration for his work with Eastin, guiding her to berths at Pan Pacs and World University Games despite swimming through mono.
- Jack Bauerle, Athens Bulldog Swim Club: Bauerle coached Chase Kalisz to double IM golds in what was very arguably the best Pan Pacs performance of any American man. He also powered a breakout year from Hali Flickinger in the 200 fly (culminating in Pan Pacs gold). Bauerle also put 3 women and 2 men on both the Pan Pacs and Worlds squads.
- Eddie Reese, Longhorn Aquatics: the venerable veteran helped Townley Haas win gold in the 200 free, plus drop a historic relay split on the 4×200. Reese’s swimmers also took silver (Jack Conger in the 100 fly) and bronze (Austin Katz in the 200 back) individually. He also put 9 men onto 2019 travel rosters: 3 to Worlds, 5 to WUGs and 1 to Pan Ams.