Competitor Coach of the Month: Ken Heis

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.

Appointed head coach of the United States boys’ team at the 2023 World Junior Swimming Championships, Ken Heis had a phenomenal month of September that included the Americans finishing atop the medal table in Netanya.

Heis, who also served as an assistant coach on the U.S. squad at the 2019 World Juniors, put one of his swimmers, Jason Zhao, on the team, and he thrived with four medals, including producing a 48.64 anchor leg on the boys’ 400 free relay team that set a new World Junior Record.

Zhao, 16, won two more gold medals on the boys’ 800 free and 400 medley relays, and added a silver on the mixed free relay.

Individually, Zhao placed 8th in the 200 free (1:48.62), having posted a personal best time of 1:48.60 in the semi-finals to move into #4 all-time in the boys’ 15-16 age group. He notably split more than one second faster, 1:47.56, on the 800 free relay.

Overall, Heis led the U.S. boys to 10 medals at World Juniors, including a sweep of the relays, and the Americans as a whole topped the medal table with 15 gold and 33 total medals.

One month prior, Heis coached seven of his Mason Manta Ray swimmers at the U.S. Junior National Championships in Irvine, with both Zhao (boys’ 100 free) and Addie Robillard (girls’ 200 breast) securing Junior National titles. Zhao’s time of 49.39 moved him into #5 all-time in the boys’ 15-16 age group.

Shortly after World Juniors, both Zhao and Robillard were named to the 2023-24 U.S. Junior National Team.

About Competitor Swim

Since 1960, Competitor Swim® has been the leader in the production of racing lanes and other swim products for competitions around the world. Competitor lane lines have been used in countless NCAA Championships, as well as 10 of the past 13 Olympic Games. Molded and assembled using U.S. – made components, Competitor lane lines are durable, easy to set up and are sold through distributors and dealers worldwide.

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thank you
2 months ago

Ken is a maestro workout writer. Odd little drills, changes of pace, beautifully assembled progressions, interwoven throughout the course of 2hr. Then the next day you’re warming up with 100 off the block for time, then doing something like 9×300 double descend. Gosh I could go on and on.

Really my comment is a testament to his ability to make it fun to work hard. And when you did something that got him jazzed you’d be on cloud 9 for a week. Can’t imagine a better program to grow up swimming in.

2 months ago

Another former Kenyon swimmer -no surprise as to what he has been able to accomplish down in Mason! Congrats!!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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