2021 Swammy Awards: Todd DeSorbo wins US Coach of the Year Honors

To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.

2021 USA Coach of the Year: Todd DeSorbo (Virginia)

Todd DeSorbo, head coach at the University of Virginia (UVA), is the recipient of the 2021 Swammy Award for US Coach of the Year. Simply put, DeSorbo and his swimmers had an impressive year full of swims, wins, and medals.

In February, the Cavalier women captured their third ACC title in four years. UVA won 13 events en route to scoring 1486 points, beating second-place NC State by 169 points. That win marked their league-record 17th ACC title. The men’s team finished fourth at the conference championships.

Then, there was the 2021 NCAA Women’s Championships where the Virginia Cavaliers won their first national championship in school history. UVA had an “A” finalist in every individual event and won six titles, the most ever by an ACC team. Twelve Cavaliers were named to CSCAA All-America Teams: 10 to the first team and two to the second team. They were also the first ACC team, men or women, to win an NCAA title. DeSorbo also led the men’s team to ninth place at the 2021 NCAA Championships, their highest finish since 2011 where they finished eighth.

On the women’s side, DeSorbo coached Paige Madden to three individual titles in the 200, 500, and 1650 freestyle. Kate Douglass claimed gold in the 50 free and two silvers in the 100 butterfly and freestyle, earning seven first-team All American honors. Alex Walsh won the 200 IM and placed fifth in both the 200 freestyle and breaststroke.

Those three swimmers then competed at the Tokyo Olympics alongside post-grad Catie DeLoof, who trains at UVA, and current UVA first-year Emma Weyant, who deferred her freshman season to prepare for the Olympics at home with the Sarasota Sharks.

DeSorbo was also selected as an assistant coach for Team USA.

All four DeSorbo-guided swimmers brought home medals from Tokyo. The individual medals were won by Walsh, and Douglass. Madden helped guide the 4×200 freestyle relay to silver, and DeLoof earned a bronze for swimming in the heats of the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Tokyo Olympic Medalists

And to close out the year, we saw Madden, Douglass, and Weyant win a combined eight medals at the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships. Douglass continued her stellar year by winning five medals herself. She first won gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay, then silver in the 4×50 medley relay. On Saturday, she swam the butterfly leg in the prelims of the mixed 4×50 medley relay, earning a silver medal for her effort. In her only individual event, the 200 IM, Douglass finished third. She also anchored the gold-medal-winning 4×50 freestyle relay.

Madden, who graduated from UVA in May 2021, won two medals. She took home bronze in the 200 freestyle and silver in the 4×200 freestyle relay. Weyant swam that relay in prelims and won a silver medal for her part as well.

FINA Short Course Medalists

  • Kate Douglass: 4×100 freestyle relay gold, 4×50 medley relay silver, mixed 4×50 medley relay silver, 200 IM bronze, 4×50 freestyle relay gold
  • Paige Madden: 200 freestyle bronze, 4×200 freestyle relay silver
  • Emma Weyant: 4×200 freestyle relay silver

DeSorbo was named Division I Women’s Team Coach of the Year by the CSCAA earlier in March. He was also named ACC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year for the second season in a row. DeSorbo was hired by UVA in August 2017 and has amassed 179 All-American swims, 16 new women’s school records, 14 new men’s school records, and 37 ACC title wins.

Honorable Mention

In no particular order.

  • Anthony Nesty: Nesty currently serves as head coach at the University of Florida. He guided Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith to success in different venues all year. At the 2021 NCAA Championships, Finke won gold in the 1650 freestyle and 400 IM. Smith won gold in the 200 freestyle and silver in the 500 freestyle. At the Tokyo Olympics, Finke won the 800 freestyle and set a new American record in the process. He later added another gold in the 1500 freestyle. In both events, he trailed in the final 50 meters but made last-minute pushes to come from behind and win, a strategy now famously dubbed “Finking.” Smith won bronze as part of the 400 freestyle and was the only American to make it to the finals of the 200 freestyle. At the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships, Smith claimed gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay. Caeleb Dressel recently announced he would begin training under Nesty (story link), joining Katie Ledecky in Gainesville.
  • Ron Aitken: Aitken is head coach of the Sandpipers of Nevada. He was seen on deck at the Tokyo Olympics despite not being named to the official swim team staff. Three of his swimmers qualified for the Olympic Games: Erica Sullivan, Katie Grimes, and Bella Sims. In Tokyo, Sullivan took home silver in the 1500 freestyle, finishing second behind Katie Ledecky. Grimes finished fourth in the 800 freestyle, less than a second behind third place Simona Quadarella from Italy. Sims swam in the prelims of the 4×200 freestyle relay and earned a silver for helping Team USA qualify for the finals. Later this year, Grimes was selected to the 2021 Short Course World Championships team but withdrew on December 18 due to COVID-19 protocols. Sims, meanwhile, had a strong showing at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships. Notably, she won the 200 butterfly in a time of 1:53.91, good for #8 all-time among 15-16 girls. Later, she swam a 9:31 in the 1000 free, also good for #8 all-time in that age group.
  • Gregg Troy: Troy currently coaches Caeleb Dressel, as he was previously head coach of the Florida Gators from 1998 to 2018. This year, he guided Caeleb Dressel to five Olympic golds in Tokyo. Dressel won gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay, 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 50 freestyle, and 4×100 medley relay. This haul made him the fifth American to win five gold medals in a single Olympic Games, joining fellow swimmers Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps, and Matt Biondi, and speed skater Eric Heiden. Troy won the 2021 Golden Goggle Coach of the Year award.

Previous Winners

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katie’s gator cap :)
23 days ago

PERIOD AS HE SHOUUUULD

MCH
23 days ago

No

John
Reply to  MCH
23 days ago

eyeroll

The condors were robbed
23 days ago

Greg Meehan > De sorbo

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  The condors were robbed
23 days ago

chad desorbo >>>>

Last edited 23 days ago by katie’s gator cap :)
Mason A
23 days ago

Gregg Troy hasn’t had anything to do with the condors since the first season.

Last edited 23 days ago by Mason A
SwimFan76
23 days ago

Wasn’t Weyant still with her club team

www
23 days ago

nesty>desorbo

Big Mac #1
Reply to  www
23 days ago

Agreed for overall us coach of the year. Desorbo should be women’s ncaa coach of the year and nesty should be us coach of the year and ncaa mens coach of the year(or maybe reese or durden)

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  www
19 days ago

why do you got to pit two baddies against each other!? 😩😩

Last edited 19 days ago by katie’s gator cap :)
Swimm
23 days ago

I would’ve given the nod to Aitken, but there’s no denying DeSorbo’s success at UVA. Maybe Aitken can win in 2022 if the sandpipers have another successful summer.

Last edited 23 days ago by Swimm
swimswamswum
Reply to  Swimm
23 days ago

Aitken has been phenomenal but it’ll just be a little bit more challenging for him given that he has a smaller number of swimmers who is on cusp of making big waves internationally and these awards definitely give a lot of credit to NCAA accomplishments. There’s definitely a chance that Sims and Grimes could have huge years but they are definitely in deep events internationally.

Swimm
Reply to  swimswamswum
23 days ago

I agree. It’s easier for an NCAA coach with the number of elite athletes they have under them (though still incredibly hard to put athletes on the team, so I’m not trying to take anything away from Todd).

But when is the last time a club team has been so successful at the trials/senior nationals level? Top programs like MAC, NCAP, Dynamo, etc… have alumni make Olympic teams each quad, but it’s insanely impressive for a club team to have multiple HS athletes make the team. Also have to give a shout-out to TAC, since they’re up there with Sandpipers too

sticky rice
23 days ago

Desorbo, Nesty and Aitken are all deserving of the award but I was most impressed with Aitken. The fact that a club team produced 3 Olympians is incredible to me. That’s more than most of the top college programs.

Scotty P
Reply to  sticky rice
23 days ago

Agreed.

Chas E
Reply to  sticky rice
23 days ago

Agree. Todd inherited those women vs Ron who actually developed those girls.

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Chas E
22 days ago

“Inherited those women” “developed those girls”

I get what you mean, but the wording is a little weird

joanietheswimmer
Reply to  sticky rice
22 days ago

My questions is why after 25 years of coaching that club, it is only recently they have had so much success? Something there changed in the past few years?

Chas E
Reply to  joanietheswimmer
22 days ago

This is a great question. Would like to hear thoughts on this.

B1Guy!
Reply to  joanietheswimmer
21 days ago

Ron’s been pumping out talented kids for years! Yes maybe not quite Olympians, but he’s had numerous collegiate athletes an NCAA qualifiers