The Illinois women’s program has hired Alec Hayden as their new assistant coach, after one year as an assistant at Division I program William & Mary.
Hayden was part of a great year at William & Mary last year, where those athletes that he primarily coached broke four Colonial Athletic Association Records, 32 School Records, and 10 NCAA “B” cuts. They also had seven individual conference champions and three relay conference champions.
“I am very excited to add Alec to the swimming and diving staff,” Illinois head coach Sue Novitsky said. “Alec will be a great representative for his home state and out recruiting. He brings great enthusiasm and energy with his coaching and has had great success in developing elite athletes. Alec has great technical knowledge and wants to keep learning more to help the student-athletes get faster. He is a smart coach with a coaching philosophy consistent with mine, and I am looking forward to having him in the Illini family.”
Prior to that, he was the head senior coach for the NASA Wildcat Aquatic Team in Evanston, Illinois, where he coached athletes like National Age Group Record holder Andrew Jovanovic, and two-time NCSA Junior National Champion Alisa Finn, who is now at Stanford.
As we see in many swimmers-turned-coaches, Hayden was a two-year team captain of Northwestern from which he graduated in 2008. Prior to his one-year stint at William & Mary, he was very much an Illinoisan, having swum under the legendary swim program New Trier High School.
He now returns closer home to the Illinois women’s-only program that tied for 11th at the Big Ten Championships last year. They scored all of their points on relays, though they had a pretty promising freshman class that included Lori Lynn, who was 35th in the 200 back in a 2:01.5.
Her older sister Erica Lynn was very nearly the Illini’s only Big Ten finalist, finishing 25th in the 200 breaststroke in a 2:17.7, and will be a senior, as will Courtney Pope, who was 27th in the 200 free in 1:49.65.
He replaces Illinois assistant head coach Steve Farnau, who was with the program for 13 seasons.