2023 Swammy Awards: U.S. Club Coach Of The Year – Chris Plumb

See all of our 2023 Swammy Awards here.


Chris Plumb and Carmel Swim Club showed their power this year as a powerhouse club program.

At the end of the summer, the team’s Summer Juniors squad won the overall team-high point award after dominating the meet in Irvine. The team scored 522.5 points, over 170 points ahead of any other team as SwimMAC was second with 350.5 points. The Carmel girls 4×100 medley relay set a new 15-18 National Age Group (NAG) record at the meet as well.

At the individual level, 16-year-old Alex Shackell had a huge year under Plumb’s guidance. Shackell qualified for her first senior international team as she finished 5th in the 200 freestyle as she swam a 1:56.70 at Summer Nationals. That swim punched her ticket to Worlds as a relay swimmer. That time also ranked her as the 4th fastest in the age group all-time. At Worlds, Shackell swam on both the prelims and finals relay. Shackell split a 1:56.38 on the anchor leg helping the US to a silver medal.

Alex Shackell turned 17 in November and has already etched her name in the record books. Shackell swam a 1:50.15 200 butterfly at Winter Juniors- East to break Claire Curzan’s 17-18 NAG record.

Alex Shackell‘s older brother Aaron Shackell also had a big year. At Summer Nationals, he finished 6th in the men’s 400 freestyle in a personal best time of a 3:49.43 (he was slightly faster in prelims with a 3:49.19). That swim earned him a spot for the U.S. at the LEN U23 Championships in Ireland. There Shackell was highlighted by a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle, where he notably swam a personal best time in prelims.

At Summer Juniors, Aaron Shackell won the boys’ high point award. There he won the 200 free, 400 free, and 200 fly. He also was second in the 100 free and 14th in the 50 free. His 400 free winning time of 3:47.00 would have been 4th at US Nationals, less than a second off of second place and what it took to qualify for Worlds.

In addition to the Shackell siblings, the club was also home to Drew Kibler through the World Championships. Kibler opted to not use his COVID-19 fifth year at Texas and returned to his hometown to train under Plumb. Kibler was third at Summer Nationals in the men’s 200 freestyle as he swam a 1:45.67, earning a spot on the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay for the US at Worlds.

All three swimmers, Alex Shackell, Aaron Shackell, and Drew Kibler were named to USA Swimming’s 2023-2024 National Team. In addition to three swimmers on the National Team, Carmel Swim Club placed four swimmers on the 2023-2024 US Junior National Team as Berit Berglund, Lynsey Bowen, Molly Sweeney, and Gregg Enoch are on the roster. Bowen and Sweeney represented the US at World Juniors this fall.


  • Ron Aitken, Sandpipers of NevadaKatie Grimes, Bella Sims, and Claire Weinstein qualified for the 2023 World Championships once again. Grimes has also already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics as she finished third in the 10K open water event at 2023 Worlds, Weinstein captured a National title in the 200 freestyle this summer, and Sims was second in the 400 free at Summer Nationals. Just a few weeks ago, Luke Ellis became the fastest high school boy in the 1650 freestyle ever, breaking the 17-18 NAG record as a high school junior.
  • Brent Arckey, Sarasota Sharks– In October 2022, Summer McIntosh moved to train full-time under Arckey in Florida. In April, McIntosh broke the 400 IM World Record at Canadian Trials swimming a 4:25.87, breaking Katinka Hosszu’s record. At Worlds, McIntosh won the 400 IM and 200 butterfly while also earning bronze in the 200 free. Her 200 fly and 200 free times were World Junior Records. In addition to McIntosh, Arckey also led three girls, Michaela Mattes, Lolly Milbaum, and Addison Sauickie, to the US National Junior team.
  • Adam Madarassy, Eagle Aquatics– Madarassy coached Kaii Winkler to not only one but two 15-16 NAG records. At the beginning of March, Winkler swam a 48.81 in the LCM 100 freestyle, becoming the youngest boy under the 49 second mark. Later that month, he set a new NAG record in the SCY 100 free swimming a 41.96, becoming the youngest swimmer under the 42-second mark. On the girls side, Erika Pelaez qualified to represent the US at World Juniors after her swims at Summer Nationals. Pelaez won silver in the 50 back and bronze in the 100 back at World Juniors.
  • Joe Natina, Crow Canyon Sharks– Natina coached Bailey Hartman to win the girls high point award this past August at Summer Juniors. Hartman won the 100 free and finished second in three other events in Irvine. Hartman and teammate Raya Mellott were named to the US Junior National Team. At the team level, Crow Canyon earned Gold Medal status for USA Swimming’s Club Excellence Rankings for the first time as the team finished 18th in the club standings.


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3 months ago

Think it’s about time we move past Ron Aitken and the Sandpipers. Lakeside Aquatics needed to be honorable mention though.

Reply to  MovePast
3 months ago

Lakeside is a multi-site team.

They do a great job, but Carmel and Sandpipers are much more impressive teams at a single location.

Carmel swim mom
3 months ago

Congratulations Chris! Every year you help even more swimmers achieve their dreams. You are very deserving of this honor!

Bigger picture
Reply to  Carmel swim mom
3 months ago

Forgot to mention Pfaff. This is not a one coach show.

Carmel swim mom
Reply to  Bigger picture
3 months ago

I didn’t forget. Pfaff is very hard working and gets a lot of credit for Carmel’s success. When a Carmel swimmer, or the whole team is being honored, I make a point to acknowledge the entire staff. However, I was simply congratulating the person who was specifically being honored with the “Club Coach of the year Award” and that is Chris Plumb.

Wheeler Walker Jr
3 months ago

Peter Verhoef and the Sharks/Bulldogs. Winning Summer juniors. Dominant high school team. Girls are rising. Great relays!

3 months ago

Coley from TFA should have been nominated at the very least. He coached Josh Chen (jr world champ) and Jacob Wimberly (jr world champion) plus Matt King (world champion) among others.

Reply to  Shogun
3 months ago

Honest question, how many total swimmers does Coley coach? Isn’t it just a very select group with no real input into the rest of the club? Similar to Jeff Julian at Mission. Can’t really compare them to a normal club head coach who is responsible for how the whole club operates even if they only directly touch one group.

Reply to  oxyswim
3 months ago

He coaches about 10 pros and 20+ HS kids. I don’t think Julian is coaching HS kids. You can compare Coley to every other “normal” head club coach in the US who coaches about the same number of kids. Given the size of his group and team size, i would say he produces at an extremely high level as he always has at every team he has been on.

Reply to  Shogun
3 months ago

Ok, didn’t realize he had that many high schoolers. Wouldn’t be on my list for coach of the year, but that’s a fair comparison.

3 months ago

Not sure how you can keep Jason Walter out this conversation. Didn’t his boys break all the free relay records last summer at Jr.s. He also coaches Maximus Williamson and Cooper Lucas.

NTX Swim Nerd
3 months ago

Jason Walter from Lakeside Aquatic Club in North Texas should have been an honorable mention given his team’s performances at both Summer and Winter Jr Nationals. Plus, he had both Maximus Williamson and Cooper Lucas contributing significantly at World Juniors with individual performances and relays.

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 and 2023 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Government & Law at …

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