David “Dave” Salo is the long-time Head Coach of the University of Southern California. Salo grew up swimming, and took his passion collegiately to Santa Rosa Junior College, and transferred to Long Beach State. He graduated with Long Beach State with a B.A. and M.A. in exercise physiology, where he also served as an assistant women’s swimming coach. Salo also earned his doctorate degree in the same field.
After coaching five years at USC under Peter Daland, Salo joined the Irvine Novaquatics coaching staff in southern California.
Salo had an extremely successful career with the Novas, serving as its Head Coach from 1990-2006, where he coached numerous Olympic and National-caliber athletes. Among his list of world-class swimmers there, Salo coached Aaron Pierson, Amanda Beard and Jason Lezak, which goes to show his coaching expertise in all strokes.
In 2002 Salo was named the U.S. Swimming Coach of the Year after leading his squad to both spring and summer U.S. National titles.
Early collegiate coaching
Prior to coaching at Irvine Novaquatics Salo was an assistant at USC. He helped guide the USC men’s team to five Top 5 NCAA finishes. The team also had three second-place NCAA finishes in 1987, 1988 and 1990. USC also had perfect dual-meet records in 1988, 1990 and 1991.
While he was coaching the Novas, Salo also served as the co-head coach at Orange Coast College from 2000-2004. He coached the team to a 2003 California state title, and he was named the Co-Coach of the Year. In the same year he became the Founding Director of Aquatics at Soka University in Alisa Viejo, Calif.
National team coaching
Salo has served extensively on the national coaching level. He’s served as the U.S. Head Women’s Coach in 2013, and the Head Men’s Coach at the 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2005 World Championships.
In addition to head coaching, Salo also served as the assistant coach at numerous national and international meets. As a women’s assistant coach Salo served on the 2012 Olympics, 2010 Short Course World Championships, 2003 World Championships, the 2000 Olympics, and the 1999 Pan American Games. As the men’s assistant swimming, Salo coached at the 2004 Olympics, 2003 World Championships, and the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships.
In 2006 Salo accepted the Head Coaching position at the University of Southern California, taking over after Mark Schubert. In his first season, Salo’s men’s team finished seventh at the NCAA Championships, and the women finished 20th after losing three Olympians from the year before.
Six men’s swimmers earned All-American honors in 2007, and Rebecca Soni earned All-American honors on the women’s side, when she defended her NCAA title in the 200 breast and she made it to the final of the 100 breast.
Salo’s 2008 season was highlighted by the huge success of his swimmers who went on to big success at the 2008 Olympics after training with him. Among a lost list, Salo worked with these 2008 Olympic medalists: gold-medalists Soni, Moones Mellouli and Klete Keller as well as bronze medalist Larsen Jensen. Salo served as Tunisia’s Olympic swim coach at the Olympics, which let him coach his Mellouli in Beijing, who was born in Tunisia. In the NCAA both teams finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships, Soni won two NCAA championship titles, and in addition Whitney Hentzen earned her first career All-American honor in the mile while Emily Goetsch, Lahey, Waller and Soni earned additional All-American honors in the 400 medley relay.
The following year in 2009 Salo coached swimmers to strong finishes in the NCAA and internationally. In the NCAA Troy’s women finished ninth, their best finish since 2004. The team was lead by Soni, who defended her national titles in the breaststroke evetns, and Katinka Hosszu who finished in the top eight of three events including two top-three finishes. On the men’s side, Salo had a young group of men — Troy’s men went through a rebuilding season.
At the 2009 World Championships Salo coached Hosszu to gold in the 400 IM, and USC graduates Soni and Mellouli in the 100 breast and 1500 free.
In 2010 the Trojan women’s team came in seventh at the 2010 NCAA Championships and they also took third at Pac-10s, which was its best finish since 2003. Hosszu, Presley Bard and DePaul both qualified for two championship finals at the NCAAs and Haley Anderson made it to one.
The men’s team finished fourth at Pac-10s and finished 11th at the NCAAs. Clement Lefert earned individual All-American honors in the 500 free, and he later teamed up with Zoltan Povazsay, Patrick White and Nick Karpov to earn an All-American awarded 800 free relay.
Outside the NCAA in 2010 Soni served as Salo’s volunteer coach, but internationally she won two Pan Pac titles and three Short Course World Championship titles. Haley Anderson also qualified for the Pan Pacs team, and had three top 8 finishes. Hosszu won three European Championships gold medals for Hungary, and she was a two-time finalist at the Short Course Worlds. Ous Mellouli also won four medals at Short Course Worlds, including a gold in the 1500 free.
That year he was inducted into the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
In 2011 the Trojan women’s team finished third at the NCAAs, which was its best since 2003. Hosszu won three NCAA titles in the 200 IM, 400 IM and the 200 fly and was named NCAA Swimmer of the meet and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. She was also the Honda Sports Award winner as the nation’s top swimmer. She was among five swimmers with at least three All-American honors apiece, which included Anderson, Presley Bard, Kacey Carlson and Lyndsay DePaul.
Troy’s men finished seventh at the NCAA meet, which was its best since 2007. After a year of rebuilding USC had All-Americans in 2011, was led by four-time All-American sprinter Vladimir Morozov, the 2011 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. USC also housed three-time All-Americans Clement Lefert and Dimitri Colupaev.
Salo also guided Soni to three gold medals and one bronze at the 2011 World Championships. Hosszu, Stina Gardell, Morozov and Mellouli also competed there, and at the 2011 World University Games distance stud Haley Anderson won gold and silver medals. Lefert picked up a silver and DePaul reached two finals.
By 2012 Salo seemed to have USC on a roll. Both teams repeated their NCAA finishes, picking up third and seventh-place finishes at the NCAA Championships. Katinka Hosszu was the star in 2012 — she grabbed her fourth and fifth NCAA titles and had a total of 20 All-American honors. Haley Anderson won her first career NCAA title in the 500 free and she finished third in the 1650. Both Stina Gardell and Meghan Hawthorne finaled in the 200 IM while Gardell did the same in the 200 breast and so did Tanya Krisman did the same in the 200y fly. Kasey Carlson and Christel Simms also became three-time All-Americans.
USC men had six All-Americans in 2012, and Morozov continued to lead the NCAA’s sprints. He finished second in the 50 free and a third in the 100 free. At the same NCAAs Dimitri Colupaev was second in the 200 free while Cristian Quintero was second in the 500 free. Alex Lendrum also reached the championship final of the 200 back. On the conference level, Morozov was the first USC swimmer since 1977 to win both the sprint events at the Pac-12s.
At the 2012 Olympics 13 swimmers from USC represents 10 different countries. Haley Anderson won a silver medal in the Marathon 10K in the second Olympics in history that offered the event. Morozov earned a bronze on Russia’s 400 free relay, and USC’s graduate, Rebecca Soni won her second gold in the 200 breast. Her time set a new World Record — her second gold and World Record came in the 400 medley relay. Still training with USC, Clement Lefert won one gold and one silver for France’s relays, Ous Mellouli won gold for Tunisia in the Marathon 10K, and a bronze in the 1500m free.
At the European Nationals Morozov won seven medals and two golds, and Hosszu represented Hungary won three golds and a silver. Morozov went on to pick up more titles in the 50 and 100 free at the 2012 FINA Short Course Worlds while Hosszu won two golds too. Jasmine Tosky, one of USC’s 2013 freshmen, won gold on the U.S. 800 free relay.
In 2013 the men had one of its best finishes in Trojan history picking up a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. The women also had a great season, finished seventh at the NCAA Championships to snag its fourth-straight top seven finish. The Trojan men’s and women’s teams had a combined 21 All-American honors.w NCAA were won by senior Haley Anderson and junior Vladimir Morozov. USC’s won its first 400 free relay title since 1977.
Salo was nominated as the 2013 Coach of the Year by USA Swimming at the annual Golden Goggles Awards, which was his sixth nomination.
Success continued in 2014 — the women’s team finished fifth at the NCAAs to become one of only three teams to post five straight top-seven finishes. USC men finished eighth, and both teams produced a combined 18 All-American nominations.
Cristian Quintero won his first NCAA title in the 500 free, and helped lead USC to a victory in the 800 free relay, which was its first win in the race since 2002. Luca Spinazzola and Dimitri Colupaev were also finalists in individual events. Kasey Carlson led USC at the women’s NCAAs with three top-six finishes, including a second in the 50 free. Stina Gardell was a two-time finalist.