2022 U.S. COACH OF THE YEAR – ANTHONY NESTY (FLORIDA/GATOR SWIM CLUB)
University of Florida head coach and Gator Swim Club head coach Anthony Nesty is SwimSwam 2022 U.S. Coach of the Year. In a year in which there were many great candidates for this award, Nesty’s accomplishments still managed to stick out.
Nesty’s Gators had a great NCAA season, wherein the men’s team finished third at the NCAA Championships. Florida won three men’s NCAA titles, including titles in the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay. Additionally, Bobby Finke won the 1650 free, picking up an individual title. The Florida women’s team also had a solid season, finishing 13th at NCAAs.
Outside of the college team, which is trending up, Nesty’s pro swimmers swam exceptionally well this summer and fall. Most notably, in her first full year training under Nesty, Katie Ledecky looks to be back to her full powers.
Ledecky was fantastic in 2022, heading to the LC World Championships where she would win four more gold medals, bringing her total LC World Champs medal count to 22, 19 of which are gold. She set a new Championship Record in the women’s 400 free, clocking a 3:58.15. She also helped the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay to a gold medal and a new Championship Record. Ledecky also won the women’s 800 free and 1500 free, putting up very good times in both (8:08.04/15:30.15).
That wasn’t it for Ledecky, however. Though she didn’t compete at the SC World Championships in December, the superstar did try her hand at SCM swimming this fall, which is something we haven’t seen her do hardly ever previously. Ledecky participated in part of the 2022 World Cup, where she broke the SC World Records in the women’s 800 free (7:57.42) and 1500 free (15:08.24). She broke the 1500 WR by nearly ten seconds.
After concluding his collegiate career in March, Kieran Smith had a fantastic rest of 2022 racing in meters. He won a gold medal as part of the men’s 4×200 free relay at the LC World Championships over the summer. Smith then went to SC Worlds recently, where he was one of the top men’s performers at the meet. He took home five medals, including golds in the men’s 400 free, 4×200 free relay, and 4×100 medley relay. He also won silver in the men’s 4×50 medley relay and bronze in the 4×100 free relay. In the 400 free, Smith not only won gold, but broke the American and Americas Records in the process.
After winning the NCAA title in the 1650 free in March, B0bby Finke also concluded his NCAA career. He went on to win gold in the men’s 800 free at the LC World Champs over the summer. Finke also earned the silver medal in the men’s 1500 free, breaking the American Record with a 14:36.70. At the International Team Trials in April, Finke set a new U.S. Open Record in the men’s LCM 800 free, swimming a 7:43.32.
Though he cut his World Championships short and has since taken a break from swimming, superstar sprinter Caeleb Dressel still managed to earn two gold medals at the LC World Champs this summer. Dressel won the men’s 50 fly and helped the U.S. men’s 4×100 free relay to victory before withdrawing from the meet.
- Ron Aitken (Sandpipers of Nevada) – The Sandpipers of Nevada head coach arguably had a more successful 2022 than 2021. Despite Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Erica Sullivan moving on to Texas for her collegiate career, Aitken still managed to land three swimmers on the American 2022 LC World Championships team. Aitken’s three swimmers, Katie Grimes, Bella Sims, and Claire Weinstein, each won a medal at Worlds. Grimes won silver in the women’s 1500 free and 400 IM, while Sims and Weinstein both won gold on the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay, which also set a new Championship Record. Grimes went on to break the World Junior Record in the SCM 1500 free at the Indianapolis leg of the 2022 World Cup. Additionally, Ilya Kharun, a Sandpiper who competes internationally for Canada, went to the SC World Champs, where he won two medals and broke the World Junior Records in the boys 50 fly and 100 fly.
- Bob Bowman (Arizona State/Sun Devil Swimming) – Arizona State head coach Bob Bowman had a phenomenal year, both with his college team and his pro group. Starting with the ASU Sun Devils, Bowman’s team, particularly the men’s team, had the best year in program history. ASU finished sixth at the 2022 Men’s NCAA Championships. They were led in part by French national Leon Marchand, who won the 200 IM and 200 breast, also taking second in the 400 IM. Marchand broke the NCAA and US Open Records in the 200 IM as well. He then went on to the LC World Championships in Budapest, where he won the men’s 200 IM and 400 IM, swimming the second-fastest 400 IM of all-time. Marchand also won a silver medal in the men’s 200 fly in Budapest. ASU pro swimmers Ryan Held and Hali Flickinger were also successful in Budapest. Held won three relay medals, including gold on the men’s 4×100 free, silver on the men’s 4×100 medley relay, and bronze on the mixed 4×100 free relay. Flickinger won gold on the women’s 4×200 free relay and individual silver in the women’s 200 fly. Flickinger then went on to compete at the SC World Championships, where she won her first individual World Champs gold medal, coming in the women’s 400 IM. She also won silver in the women’s 200 fly, and bronze on the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay.