Dave Salo to Step Down as USC Head Coach to Focus on Olympic Hopefuls

Torrey Hart
by Torrey Hart 45

January 16th, 2020 News

University of Southern California head swimming coach Dave Salo will step down from his role with the school to focus on his swimmers with Olympic aspirations, he announced Thursday.

Current Trojans and national and international swimmers will continue train under Salo at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center as they prepare for the Tokyo Games, the school said.

Salo, in his 14th season with the Trojans, will make this March’s NCAA championship meets his last with the program. Salo took over for Mark Schubert as head coach in 2006 after serving at the helm of Irvine Novaquatics since 1990 (he remains the head coach emeritus executive consultant for the club). He had previously worked as a sprint assistant at USC from 1986-90 under Peter Daland.

“After thoughtful consideration and discussion with several key people in my life, this 2019-2020 season as USC’s head coach will be my last,” Salo said. “Following the NCAA Championships I will remain at USC, turning my undivided attention to the preparation of my athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Beyond the Games I will continue my work with the Novaquatics Swim Club and with opportunities that have been presented. I also plan to put in a lot more work on improving my fade-away jumper.

“I have spent one third of my life at USC, as a grad student, assistant men’s coach and now as head coach. I will always be proud of the time spent here with the many people that make USC special. I will always reserve a most special place in my heart for the student-athletes and my staff who I hope I have served well. Going forward, I am excited about the future for the USC swimming and diving program with some great talent joining the team in the next few years.”

Under Salo, Trojan swimmers have combined to earn 89 women’s swimming and diving All-American honors and 76 men’s side, winning a combined 22 NCAA individual and six relay titles. The women have posted 10 NCAA top-10 finishes (four in the top six), while his men’s teams have had eight top-eight finishes (four in the top six).

In 2015, Salo led the men’s team to its first Pac-12 title since 1979, and in 2016, the women won their first in program history.

Numerous swimmers who have swum for Salo — whether they were on the college team or his club team —  have reached the Olympics. Those include Katinka Hosszu, Jessica Hardy, Rebecca Soni, Ricky Berens, Eric Shanteau, Haley Anderson, Yuliya Efimova, Vladimir Morozov, Amanda Beard, Aaron Peirsol, Jason Lezak, Gabrielle Rose and Staciana Stitts.

Salo was an assistant to Team USA at 2012 Olympics (women), 2010 Short Course World Championships (women), 2004 Olympics (men), 2003 World Championships (men and women), 2002 Pan Pacific Championships (men), 2000 Olympics (women) and the 1999 Pan American Games (women). He served as head coach at the 2015 and 2013 FINA World Championships for the United States’ women’s team and head coach for the men in 2005; he was also the men’s head coach for the 2001 Goodwill Games.

Though USC did not announce Salo’s successor Thursday, they have a strong in-house candidate in associate head coach Catherine Kase, currently in her 12th season with the program. Kase served as the United States’ head open water coach at the 2016 Olympics and will do so again in 2020. She was also head open water coach for the 2019, 2015, 2013, and 2009 FINA World Championships, as well as the 2014 and 2016 Pan Pacific Championships and 2007 Pan American Games.

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2 years ago


2 years ago

That’s dope!

2 years ago

Dave, you were my favorite coach of all time. USC will miss you. Best of luck with the next stage of your great career!

2 years ago

For some reason, I feel there is more to it?

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Maybe a switch to ISL like Troy

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Meh if you can make enough money with just pros and you no longer have to worry about an AD breathing down your neck, compliance issues, keeping kids academically eligible, parents, etc. it seems like a no brainer. Especially considering he’s nearing the end of his career anyway.

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Sorry to disappoint you but that is all there is to it…. this is deja vu of conversation I had with my wife earlier….

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

One of the The most amazing coaches. I’ve ever learned from.
The Best

2 years ago

A true disciple of the sport and a great coach to many. The Trojan Family should be proud of the many accomplishments that his teams accomplished. Dave is one of many great people who walked the deck of The Dungeon and The Peter Daland Pool. All the best coach!

2 years ago

Take notes, Stickels!

Pat Stanton
2 years ago

Dave has always been ahead of the curve; he’s among the very best coaches USA Swimming has ever known.

2 years ago


About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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