Grand Canyon Hires Chris O’Linger as Associate Head Coach

Division I Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona has announced Chris O’Linger as their new associate head coach. O’Linger comes to the team after 6 years with Incarnate Word in San Antonio: 1 as a graduate assistant (2012-2013), one as an assistant (2013-2017), and one as assistant head coach (2017-2018).

O’Linger will fill a spot left by the resignation of Charlie Cunningham, who had been an assistant for the last 3 seasons.

“I’m very excited to join the staff at Grand Canyon,” O’Linger said. “The school’s support of athletics is immense, and I have already bought into the team’s mission and culture. This is an opportunity to work with some of the best coaches and swimmers in the country.”

O’Linger was with Incarnate Word through the school’s transition from Division II to Division I in the fall of 2013. Grand Canyon recently completed its own transition to Division I, with the men’s team making a big splash last year in its first season of NCAA Championship eligibility.  The team finished 35th at the meet, with 7 points, including qualifying several relays: one of the few mid-major programs nationally to do so.

“From an athletic perspective, what they have accomplished during their first year in Division I, after only a four-year transfer period is indescribable,” O’Linger said. “The success in the pool and in the recent national academic rankings reaffirm my confidence in our ability to achieve continued success as a program, and recruit and produce remarkable men and women to represent GCU post-graduation.”

At Incarnate Word, O’Linger led the middle-distance and distance training groups, while also acting as an adjunct professor of kinesiology.

“Chris is a great addition to our staff,” Schaffer said. “He will help us continue to move our program forward with what he has to offer our to both our student-athletes and in our recruiting efforts.”

O’Linger is a 2011 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he swam and was a 22-time Division II All-American across 9 different events. In his time at Tampa, he broke 6 conference and 7 school records, was a 4-time U.S. Open Finalist, and a team captain as a senior.

The Incarnate Word men came away from last season with a CCSA conference championship: their 2nd since transitioning from Division II (they previously won in 2014). The women’s team finished 5th.

“I absorbed a lot in my time at Incarnate Word with our head coach Phillip Davis,” O’Linger said. “But (GCU swimming and diving head coach) Steve Schaffer will undoubtedly serve an equal amount of influence on me as a coach. His mentorship and guidance was a resonating benefit in deciding to join the coaching staff at Grand Canyon.”

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SIU swimmer

I had the great privledge of swimming under Chris while at Incarnate word briefly. He’s an amazing coach and an even more amazing individual. He’s gonna do great things

Bradford S Flood

Congratulations Chris, and Steve! Wise choice, for both of you!!

Ed Brennan

Best of luck Chris. Great hire Steve !


Congrats, Chris! Excellent job by Grand Canyon and Steve with this hire!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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