GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – After building a pair of strong and successful programs for the Green Bay Phoenix, Jim Merner is retiring following a 25-year mainstay as head coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs effective June 30.
Merner began his tenure, the second longest of any active head coach at Green Bay, back in 1990, when he was hired as the women’s swimming and diving head coach. Merner reinstated the men’s program in 1992 and went on to win 10 Horizon League Championships and garnered Coach of the Year honors in 11 different seasons.
“I have been blessed to have been able to enjoy an experience that has lasted 25 years as head coach here and a total of 42 years as a swimming coach of all ages and teams. There can be no greater joy in any profession than to play a part in the development of a young person’s life. It has truly been an honor to have been associated with great young people in such a great sport. I will miss them,” said Merner.
The native of Greendale, Wis., and University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate won seven consecutive women’s titles from 2005 to 2011, while also winning titles in 1998 and 2000 and adding a men’s title in 2002. Merner also led Green Bay to a runner-up league finish on 10 different occasions, five with each the men and the women.
“Jim has had an outstanding career at Green Bay. He has impacted the lives of thousands of student-athletes and colleagues during his 25 year tenure. He has built strong programs that compete in the pool and in the classroom and student-athletes have always been his top priority. He leaves behind a great legacy and we wish Jim and his wife Marcy all the very best in their new journey. They will always be part of the Phoenix family,” said Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie.
During his 25 years as head coach, Merner’s teams made consistent appearances on both the Horizon League All-Academic Teams and the CSCAA Scholar All-American Teams. The Phoenix women earned a 3.51 team GPA this past fall and the men’s squad posted a 3.13, helping Green Bay Athletics achieve a department-wide GPA of 3.0 or better for the 30th-straight semester.
Merner got his start in coaching in 1977 at the Hartford Swim Club and also served as a coach at UW-Madison, where he was an assistant coach during the 1986-87 season. He also coached the Badger Dolphins from 1979-1982. His last stop before coming to Green Bay was as head coach of the Elmbrook Swim Club from 1982-86.
“My thanks go out first of all to Dan Spielman, who gave me this opportunity when he was Athletic Director in 1990 and then allowed me to start the men’s team from scratch in 1992. It has been an honor to represent this university for all these years. To all of the athletes that have come here, thank you for giving me a chance to coach you. Lastly, I would like to thank our past administrations and current one, headed by Mary Ellen Gillespie, for showing such wonderful support of our women’s and men’s teams,” said Merner
Swimming news courtesy of Green Bay Athletics.