A Nation’s Capital Treasure: Coach John Flanagan’s 50+ Years of Excellence

Swimming podcast feature is courtesy of Champion’s Mojo, a SwimSwam partner.

Legendary swim coach John Flanagan, of the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, has left an indelible mark on thousands of swimmers throughout his illustrious 50-plus-year coaching career with both USA and Masters swimmers. He has coached numerous US National Team members in both pool and open water.

As one of John’s earliest swimmers, dating back to the 1970s, I continue to return almost annually to swim under his guidance as a Masters swimmer. I had the privilege of being John’s first Senior National and Olympic Trials qualifier. Throughout the countless yards and years spent training under his tutelage, I am honored to have contributed to John’s remarkable legacy. While practices were always tough, John’s great sense of caring and of humor was always apparent, making those hard days not so bad.

Beyond developing elite swimming skills, John instilled invaluable life lessons, teaching me resilience in navigating challenges both in and out of the pool. Renowned for his humility, dedication, and integrity, John Flanagan stands as a pillar in the swimming community. Despite coaching esteemed athletes such as Michelle Griglione, Andrew Seliskar, and Janet Hu, John has maintained a low profile within the coaching realm.

Consistently, diligently, and unassumingly, John has exhibited unwavering commitment to his craft for over five decades, shaping not only champions in swimming but also in life. I count myself immensely fortunate and deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to train under John Flanagan’s guidance.

John is a modest individual reluctant to discuss his own accomplishments. Below is a link to an interview I conducted with John following one of his Masters practices. (Please note, while I did express empathy upon learning of his heart attack during the interview, technical difficulties prevented the recording of this segment.)

I invite you to enjoy the on-deck conversation with John Flanagan:


Thank you,
Kelly Palace,
Host of the Champion’s Mojo Podcast


Kelly Palace and Maria Parker are two World Record Setting Masters Athletes & Performance Coaches who share their experiences for the benefit of Masters Athletes who want to get better with age. They bring you conversations with champions, coaches and experts from the sport of swimming and other endurance sports, to help you overcome challenges and be your best. Podcast topics include performance, motivation, mindset, health, wellness and more.  You’ll benefit from Champion’s Mojo whether you are a world champion, or brand new adult athlete. Tune in to get the Mojo and bring out your inner champion!


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Courtney Chubb
3 months ago

I swam with John when he was the coach of Northern Virginia Fun and Fitness – NVFF. He was the best coach in the region and well beyond, and our results, even as a small team, proved it. As Kelly says, his practices were ALWAYS tough. He is a first rate coach, whose commitment to bringing out the best in those he coached meant he spent no time promoting himself. He is also a first-rate person. I am lucky to have been coached by him – both for understanding that I could make 10 X 200s fly no matter the pain, but more importantly he was a role model of how we should all strive to be and live life.

Lynn Introcaso
3 months ago

I’ve been swimming with John for 21+ years and he always sets up the day for success and makes my mornings bright. If it were a pill, I would take it! Many of John’s main sets are beyond anything I think possible yet we always manage to complete the set feeling a sense of pride. As my friend Paul would say, I roll my eyes and pray that the set is over soon. We all love John and is enormous dedication and love for his swimmers. Lynn I.

Patrick Donahue
3 months ago

John brings the same energy to his workouts whether he is coaching elite age groupers or casual Masters swimmers. We are so fortunate to have his experience, dedication and passion every morning. Thank you for conducting this interview and giving John just a fraction of the recognition he deserves.

Denise Wetzel
3 months ago

I’m also a member of Coach John’s Morning Masters crew…what an absolute icon he is! I feel so privileged and proud to know him and swim under his guidance.

Curly Sue
3 months ago

I swim with John Flanagan’s masters group as well and I am thrilled to see him get the recognition he deserves. He is dearly loved by many.

Johnson Swim school
3 months ago

We should acknowledge these traditional coaches.
The dalands
Jim. Ellis
Classic Coaches

ACC fan
Reply to  Johnson Swim school
3 months ago

That’s what’s being done here 🙂