2020 Swammy Awards: Chris Mooney Earns Oceanian Coach Of The Year

To see all of our 2020 Swammy Awards, click here.


Many Oceanians were out of the water in terms of competitions for the majority of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This was exacerbated by the fact that nearly all of the Australians set to race as members of International Swimming League (ISL) teams all withdrew from season 2 at the 11th hour, citing travel restrictions.

However, the swimmers from the region who did get wet as the year went on did so in a big way, with 19-year-old Kaylee McKeown leading the charge as a newly-minted World Record holder.

After rewriting the Australian record books in the 100m and 200m long course backstroke in early November, late that month McKeown fired off a new World Record in the 200m short course backstroke – 1:58.94 – at the Australian Virtual Championships. She wound up ending her season by producing the 2nd fastest 100m long course backstroke of all time in 57.93.

But responsible for mentoring and developing McKeown through this rapidly rising career, one that includes a national record in the 200m IM from this year as well, is USC Spartan Head Coach Chris Mooney. The former University of Hawaii coach has been at USC’s helm since 2015 and has had Olympians Jake Packard, Leah Neale and Taylor McKeown under his tutelage during his time there.

The pack also includes Mikkayla Sheridan, Phoebe Hines, Dahlas Rodgers, and Kalani Ireland

The 2016 Olympic coach has said in the past that the Spartans’ success boils down to a culture accustomed to ‘mutual accountability, positive staff-swimmer relations and trusting the training processes.’

Mooney says of McKeown, “she is a very, very compliant athlete. She turns up to practice each session looking for an opportunity to improve. We have come up with a plan and she trusts it and goes after it each day.”

In terms of the secret sauce in her regimen, Mooney says that it’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing. “We have a very professional group of support staff that we have surrounded ourselves with, including sports science, physio, nutrition, etc.”

As to what makes the Mooney/McKeown relationship click, coach says “We are both value-driven, so we both understand the importance of a strong and professional relationship. We trust each other.”


In no particular order.

  • Janelle Pallister (AUS) – In a unique relationship as coach to daughter Lani Pallistermother Janelle has helped put the freestyle ace on the path to success. The multi-2018 Pan Pacs champion and 2019 World Junior Champion improved her lifetime bests in her specialty distance events, ending her season with new Australian national records in the SCM 800 and 1500 freestyle. The pair have since moved from Cotton Tree to Griffith University, working alongside storied coach Michael Bohl.
  • Michael Weston (NZL) – With 2016 Olympian Helena Gasson under his charge, Coast Swimming Club Head Coach Weston saw his star break a remarkable 5 new national marks while competing in the ISL as a member of the LA Current. The versatile kiwi finished the season having earned 89 points for her squad, hitting new national marks including the 100m back (57.96), 100m fly (57.58), 200m fly (2:07.14), 200m IM (2:07.78) and 400m IM (4:32.48) as a demonstration of her versatility developed under Weston’s coaching. Ali Galyer and Wilrich Coetzee also train under Weston.

Previous Winners:

  • 2015 – Simon Cusack
  • 2016 – Peter Bishop
  • 2017 – Simon Cusack
  • 2018 – Dean Boxall
  • 2019 – Dean Boxall
  • 2020 – Chris Mooney

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Leah neale has moved to chandler

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

Read More »