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.
When the dust settled on U.S. Olympic Trials, the University of Georgia led the way, both as an alma mater and training base for U.S. Olympic swimmers.
Four UGA grads who continue to train in Athens, Georgia made the U.S. Olympic team. They’re led by IMer Chase Kalisz, who qualified for the Olympic team in two events and had a huge 400 IM win to kick off the meet.
His college teammate Jay Litherland took second in that 400 IM to make his second Olympic team. Breaststroker Nic Fink broke through to win the 200 breast in 2:07.55, making his first Olympic team just days after a painful third-place in the 100 breast. And Olivia Smoliga overcame the disappointment of missing a return Olympic appearance in the 100 back, returning days later to make the 4×100 free relay.
Meanwhile three more UGA alums made the Olympic team, despite training elsewhere: Allison Schmitt and Hali Flickinger both train out of Arizona State University, and Gunnar Bentz is now training at the University of Texas.
All things considered, there are nine U.S. Olympic swimmers with strong University of Georgia ties – all have swum for head coach Jack Bauerle somewhere along the line.
Georgia leads all NCAA programs with 7 alumni on the U.S. Olympic swim team for 2021. (The next-best is Cal with 6). Georgia is also tied with Cal as a training base – each training hub has 6 U.S. Olympians on the 2021 team.
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