Fordham Appoints Olympic Medalist Tom Wilkens Interim Coach After 7-Week Limbo

Sources tell SwimSwam that Fordham University chose Olympic medalist Tom Wilkens as its interim head coach on Friday — nearly two months after the unexplained departure of longtime head coach Steve Potsklan in August.

Wilkens, 47, helped Stanford capture an NCAA team championship in 1998 and went on to win a bronze medal in the 200 IM (2:00.87) at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. A couple years ago, he was featured in the film, “The Water Is My Sky,” along with Connor Jaeger and Rowdy Gaines. He currently coaches at the Greater Monmouth YMCA club team while also working as a director at McGowan Risk Specialists.

The Rams were on their own without any swimming coaches for more than a month, with captains leading practice before Wilkens began volunteering his time on deck. Wilkens’ son, Bryce, just started as a freshman at Fordham, an Atlantic 10 program located in New York City.

“After a thorough and exhaustive search, we will be announcing an interim head coach for our men’s and women’s swimming and diving team today,” a Fordham spokesperson told SwimSwam on Thursday. “We are confident that the new interim coach will provide stability to what has been a trying few months for the Fordham swimming and diving program. Since we consider the health and well-being of our student-athletes of the utmost importance, we worked as quickly as possible to hire a coach who will be a good fit for our program while instilling Fordham’s core values. We understand that the timing of the coaching change was less than ideal and since we did not have an assistant coach at the time we could not promote from within. The timing also made it difficult for head coaches at other institutions to be candidates for the Fordham position as they were hesitant to leave their current schools in a bind.”

Last season, the Ram men placed 5th out eight teams at the 2023 Atlantic 10 Championships, marking their best finish since 2017. The Fordham women placed 5th out of 11 teams.

Less than a month after leaving Fordham, Potsklan found a new job at nearby SUNY Maritime College, a Division III school in the Bronx.

The Rams have 35 swimmers listed on their women’s roster this season and 33 members of their men’s team. The only other coaches on staff besides Wilkens are diving coach Zhihua Hu and volunteer diving coach Evan Moretti. Fordham added Jake Brown as an assistant coach over the offseason in April, but he joined University of Chicago’s staff in September.

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YGBSM
8 months ago

“Thorough and exhaustive search”
“We worked as quickly as possible”
“The timing of the coaching change was less than ideal”

Seemed to be fine for SUNY Maritime. After being sacked with no transition plan in place, Potsklan got picked up faster than you can say “Seven weeks without a (paid) coach.”

Whatever Potsklan did to get bounced, fine. That’s Fordham’s prerogative. But whatever it was, it didn’t seem to deter another (nearby) school and clearly, Fordham had absolutely zero plan.

Swimpop
8 months ago

Nothing screams stability like “interim.”

Swimgeek
8 months ago

Wilkens is terrific so this is not a dig against him at all — but the PR statements are beyond absurd. “After a thorough and exhaustive search …. We are appointing as interim coach the father of a freshman who has been volunteering for the last 7 weeks!”

Shaddy419
8 months ago

What’s the chance they did this because of the SwimSwam article?

urahrah
Reply to  Shaddy419
8 months ago

Honestly probably a non zero chance

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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