Head Coach Paul Stafford Leaves Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics

Paul Stafford, head coach at University of Arizona-based Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics Club since 2014, is no longer with the program. Swimming World first reported the news.

Stafford had coached alongside Arizona head coach Augie Busch since he came to the school from Virginia in 2017.  Stafford took over for Johno Fergusson, who resigned after four years as head coach.

In Tucson, Stafford worked with Olympians Matt Grevers, Leah Smith and Nick Thoman, as well as 2018 national champion Justin Wright. Stafford’s departure notably coincides with Wright’s – on Monday, the 200 flyer announced he is moving to North Carolina to train with Mark Gangloff. It’s not clear if the two are directly connected, however, as Wright listed Busch and Cliff Robbins as his coaches when he made the United States National Team in 2018.

Wright said Monday that his only connection to UNC is “a lot of friends in the area.”

Update: In an email to SwimSwam Stafford said he doesn’t think he will be coaching again.

“I don’t have the energy to start from scratch again with another club,” he wrote. “I was hoping to make it through Trials and another Championship phase. We had a few ready to break out (as every coach is saying right now).  I think I will be exploring other options.”

Prior to Tucson, Stafford helped start the now-acclaimed California-based Terrapins Swim Team in 1989, and coached a number of top names while there. Among them were 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, Olympic Trials finalist as well as multi-time All-American at USC Chelsea Chenault, and Cal’s Justin Lynch, a multi-time All-American who broke Michael Phelps‘ 15-16 national age group record in the 100 fly in 2013.


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2 years ago

I would leave too. In a short stint the amount of transfers, coaches leaving and now a pro. Follow it up with the Lackluster recruiting class.

2 years ago

I don’t know what happened but Paul is a class act and a great coach. Best wishes to him in the future and I hope he finds his way back to coaching again.

Paul Stafford
2 years ago

Just to clarify. My work with the pro group (Matt, Leah, Nick, etc..) consisted of completing meet entries. My primary focus was with the youth Club team.

Reply to  Paul Stafford
2 years ago

Paul, best of luck in your next chapter. You certainly made an impact in the sport with your outstanding coaching.

Genadijus Sokolovas
Reply to  Paul Stafford
2 years ago

Good luck, Paul! Stay in touch!

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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