GWU Head Coach James Winchester Talks Team Growth & Future Outlook

George Washington University has only ever sent four athletes to the Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, and two of them have come under the guidance of Head Coach James Winchester.

Backstroker Gustav Hokfelt raced to 18th in the 100 back at last week’s 2018 Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by the University of Minnesota, and Andrea Bolognesi competed at the 2016 and 2017 NCAA Championships where he finished 8th and 9th in the 100 breaststroke, respectively.

Clearly, something has changed for the better at GWU. Curious to know what’s been making the difference, we spoke with Coach Winchester to learn how the program has changed and grown under his guidance.

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
11 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
NOVA Coach

Go G-Dub!!!! A program doing some great things in the NOVA Area!

Nova Coach 2

James Winchester was handed a fully funded program when he came in. It is not hard to “purchase” a bunch of extremely fast foreign/domestic kids and win a conference title in a mid-major conference with their purchases. The rest of the men’s team in the conference does not have as many scholarships as GWU has combined (excluding La Salle). Furthermore, their improvement rate is not significant as many of their faster kids fail to improve at all. My guess is Winchester is using GWU as a resume stop and will be out of there shortly. Shoutout to their diving coach though, he has produced some real diving talent.

NOVA Coach

I think Gustav Hokfelt is a good example of someone that has improved. From 1:49 to 1:41, and :49 to :45 is probably a good rate of improvement? The swimswam progression article actually has GW ranked top 20 on both mens and womens side for development/improvement. Facts don’t lie.

Some dude

Wouldn’t all the international kids best scy times be from the their first dual meet? Not really that impressive that they drop time from their first meet to conference. I think their progression is a little inflated because of that.


Probably #desorboeffect

no one

check, those improvements are form his first conference meet


Not really. Hokfelt dropped 1 sec per year off of his A10 championship times in the 100 back. From freshman year he posted :49 to senior year when he posted a :46. In his first meet of the 2017-18 season, he swam a :50.3. So yes, check and that is what you will see that. Also be careful how you round the times. His best 200 is 1:41.97


That #desorboeffect. I think most college kids would love a one second drop per year 100, and 2 second drop per year for the 200.

But living in a Dressel world, that’s the new normal right?


Regardless of his improvement rate, he, along with Bolognesi, were handed full scholarships to attend GW. No other schools in the A10, or many other mid-major conferences, can afford to do that. Little bit unfair don’t you think? If it weren’t for their scholarships, I doubt either athletes would have attended the school and we would not be seeing these videos.

Mr Sandals

Hats off to coach Winchester. Can you imagine how exposed GW’s old coach must feel? Perennial bottom of the barrel team, and two years after a head coach switch they win conference…then the year after that they win conference by even more. There’s probably a ceiling in how good an A-10 team can get, but it just shows how much of this sport is about the coach

NOVA Coach 2

The reason why is because he was handed a fully funded program. Not hard to do. When you’ve got fast recruits who come to your school for the scholarship you offer, you will win a mid-major conference title easily. It is not fair to put a team like George Mason or Saint Louis, who have about 1.8 scholarships in total each up against a team like George Washington with 9.9.

Mr Sandals

Seems like you’re implying fully funded teams are a bad thing or something.


You keep griping about the scholarships.

GW has a commitment to swimming and with it, they bring great student athletes to campus and attract students with the chance to be a scholar and participate in D1 swimming. The commitment was there before Coach Winchester came; Hokfelt was recruited by the previous coach. Coach Winchester has the whole package. He is a good tactician, he knows how to develop young people and get them to buy into his system, and he is a clever and tireless recruiter.

Once more, hats off to him!

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!