Jeff Conwell, formerly the head coach of the Canyons Aquatic Club in Santa Clarita, California, has accepted the head coaching position for the Palm Springs Piranhas, about 130 miles east across the San Bernadino Valley in Southern California.
In 14 seasons with Canyon Aquatics, Conwell built the program into a regional power, including a victory at the SoCal Junior Olympics in August.
Among the swimmers to come out of his former club include USC Trojan Jordan Danny and former Cal All-American and Pac-10 Champion Nolan Koon. The most famous alumnus of the program, though is Olympic Champion and former World Record holder Anthony Ervin, who moved through the program at the end of the 90’s, just as Conwell was joining the team as the head age group coach.
Other swimmers who trained under Conwell are Riley Mita, Stanford’s John Criste, and Abbey Weitzeil, who is already one of the top recruits in this year’s sophomore class (aka Katie Ledecky’s class).
This is also a notable move, as it leaves the hosts of this spring’s Open Water Nationals without a head coach.
The move in terms of past team success isn’t a huge upgrade; the Piranhas have had some good swimmers in their recent history, including USC’s Lynette Lim and rising high school senior Indira Ceranic.
What’s really attractive about this position, though, is the fact that after a club restructuring, Conwell will receive a lot of control over his new program. “The Piranhas are giving me the opportunity to gain the important club management experience that I’ve sought after within a structure that ensures that I can be there for a very long time,” he said of the new opportunity.
The board of the Palm Springs club has been overhauled recently, and is now run by non-parent members: a rarity in the world of club swimming. This could be an exciting, and challenging, opportunity for Conwell, and if successful the model may spread to other teams that have struggled administratively.