Developmental Coach of the Year Tim O’Brien Out At Nitro Swimming

Tim O’Brien, the winner of USA Swimming’s Developmental Coach of the Year award last year, is no longer a part of the Nitro Swimming program, according to the club.

Nitro head coach Mike Koleber confirmed to SwimSwam that O’Brien was no longer on staff with the club due to an “incident” that allegedly occurred in the past but apparently resurfaced this year.

Koleber’s full statement:

I have no details other than what USA Swimming can provide, over an incident that allegedly took place years ago that recently resurfaced. I know nothing more. He is no longer connected with our program. We’re fortunate to have Elliott McGill already a part of our staff, and he’s taking the lead role of our National kids.

SwimSwam reached out to USA Swimming for comment, but USA Swimming said it’s policy is not to comment on any situations. O’Brien is currently not listed on USA Swimming’s List of Individuals Suspended or Ineligible, not appearing on the list of permanently banned or temporarily banned coaches.

One parent of a Nitro swimmer, however, says that they were told tonight that O’Brien had been banned for life by USA Swimming and would not appeal

The Texas-based Nitro Swimming program has been one of the nation’s top youth clubs, with O’Brien winning the Developmental Coach of the Year award in the summer of 2015.

Nitro coach Koleber said the team would be moving Elliott McGill into the lead role in coaching Nitro’s national-level swimmers in O’Brien’s absence.

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What happened



I was really looking forward to coach O’Brien coaching our kids. He is a great coach and he is very friendly with parents around the pool. I never talked to him except occasional “hi” when passing by, which he always initiated.

I do not know what happened and never heard any rumors. I hope there were not rumors about this among Nitro coaches and nobody knew anything.

That said, he crossed the line and there is no place for him or any other coach who did have relationship with a swimmer (under age or not) in swimming. The victim is the only person we should feel sorry for.


USA Swimming did NOT comment, has that changed?


It’s a very sad and confusing time for our club, 1 day after celebrating winning State champs. I don’t know facts and it’s not my job to pass any judgement! What I do know is that Tim was always an amazing coach who put the kids first, and was always a true gentleman towards anybody on deck, parents, swimmers and visitors! Never hesitated to give a younger up and coming swimmer at the club a word of encouragement or to congratulate them on their achievements. One encouraging word from Tim had the power to change a swimmers swimming career. All of the swimmers and parents not in the National group had only 1 wish, that he would stick around long… Read more »


MFR I suggest you get educated about the victims in situations involving abuse. Its not uncommon for them to take 20-30 years to come forward and now many jurisdictions are acknowledging this fact by extending the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. I have no info that this is what happened here. etc.


Thanks for your reply TA. Please don’t presume to know me, my background or my education based on my thoughts and comments. As mentioned, the questions arise from lack of information on the situation, information which neither you or I have. I in no way disrespect any person that may possibly be a victim in this situation by sharing my personal impressions of Coach Tim. Neither you or I know for a fact that it was the possible victim them self that brought this matter to light, or somebody else for any number of other reasons. And by asking “why” about the timing out of curiosity, in no way means that I don’t agree with you that there should not… Read more »

Cape Swim

MFR, I’m not sure people need to presume or speculate in order to conclude that Tim O’Neil does not belong in the role of coach. He has agreed not to contest a lifetime ban. Imagine what that takes. Typically, accepting such a ban allows one to minimize (or avoid) legal charges. But even if there are no legal charges – even if your “scenario 2” is accurate and no laws were broken – do we really want to condone or in any way sympathize with that scenario? My answer is a clear “no”. There is no need to presume that there is a victim here. There is one. Imagine how he or she feels to see a substantial number of… Read more »


MFR- now that we are no longer in the dark about this ‘amazing coach’ (he’s officially on the list for 304.3.5 violations), you got any more conspiracy theories or victim shaming for us?


I couldn’t have said it better!


HULKSWIM: You continuously list code of conduct 305.3.5 and presume to know everything about the situation, and that the accuser was in fact the victim. I’m sorry you read conspiracy theories into my questions, which still are not answered and probably never will be. I give you 2 scenarios (there are many more), both very different but both guilty of transgressing 305.4.5: Scenario 1: Tim was a horrific sexual “predator” who “preyed” on under age swimmers and sexually abused or molested one or more victims. Not only would this be a transgression of the code of conduct but also the law. The abuse here is physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. Scenario 2: Tim had a consensual relationship of a sexual… Read more »


I can think of at least 3 more scenarios and I can assure you in none of them can I conjure any sympathy for him.

Even in your scenario 2, there is still a victim, which you still seem comfortable overlooking (or maybe not recognizing?).

You questioned the timing of this… really? What’s a good time for someone to speak up against a person of authority abusing their power over them in a sexual nature?

Sorry your state title celebration got rained on. Sorry your hopes and dreams of having your athlete train for him are ruined.

From where I stand, as a swim coach, I don’t think Tim has anything left to offer the sport.


Nobody is asking for your sympathy (or your judgment). I already expressed my sympathy for everyone affected, that includes the victim(s) and their families. Our State title celebration is also not being rained on. Our kids trained and swam their guts out for that title and deserve the credit and celebration for it. From where I stand, as a swim parent, I would think that from where you stand, as a swim coach, you could appreciate that! Our kids also don’t dream of training FOR anyone. They are trained BY coaches, not FOR them. They only train FOR themselves and their own goals and dreams. From where I stand, as a swim parent, I would think that from where you… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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