Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Head coach Greg Meehan led the United States women to their most successful World Championships in history, with 20 total medals, 9 of them gold.
And unlike the overall medal tally, that doesn’t include mixed relays, which means the number of total medal opportunities was identical in 2017 to every season back to 2001.
Team USA won 38 total medals – 18 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze – in the pool, and more than half of them came from the women’s side. Women won 9 golds to the men’s 7, both genders had 5 silver and the women had 6 bronze to the men’s 4.
Those 20 total medals are the most for any American women’s team in World Championships history. With 20 medal events for women, the U.S. averaged a medal per event. In fact, there were only four events in which an American woman didn’t medal: the 50 back, 50 fly, 200 fly and 400 IM.
Comparing that medal total to the event lineups in previous years (Worlds featured 20 women’s events from 2001 to the present, 16 women’s events from 1986-1998 and 15 from 1973-1982), this is only the second time the Americans have averaged one medal per event. The 1978 team won 16 medals over 15 events – that was a pretty stellar team that included Tracy Caulkins, Sippy Woodhead, Joan Pennington and Linda Jezek.
This year’s American team nabbed 9 golds, tied for the most in American history. Other years to win 9 medals were 2013 (thanks to the dynamic combination of young Katie Ledecky and peak Missy Franklin), 2007 (Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler, Natalie Coughlin & co.) and that 1978 team.
The Americans swept all three relays, only the third time it’s been done on the women’s side since the addition of the 4×200 free relay on the women’s side in 1986. The other two were the Americans in 2013 and the East Germans in ’86.
And before the arguments start about exactly how much a head coach is directly responsible for a team of swimmers from different programs, Meehan’s own swimmers were the biggest powerhouses of the bunch. Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel led all women with 5 gold medals and 6 total medals apiece, and Lia Neal was a valuable relay piece who won two golds herself. Though Ledecky probably didn’t have the meet she’d hoped for, she still finished tied with Sarah Sjostrom for the most individual medals of the meet on the women’s side, and Manuel was better than she’s ever been.
For all of that, Meehan is July’s Competitor Coach of the Month.
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