Illinois Hires Alec Hayden As New Assistant

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.

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7 years ago

I know this may be controversial but i for one would really enjoy it if swimswam ignored major schools like Illinois that refuse to give the same opportunities to male swimmers as they do to females. It has simply become gender discrimination and it has to stop.

Reply to  jman
7 years ago

It’s very generous of you to refer to Illinois as a “major” school, at least in regards to swimming. Illinois consistently produces top notch high school athletes, most of which are forced to leave the state due to the state’s premier university lacking a men’s team & putting out an inferior women’s team year after year. Northwestern is the only real option in the state for elite athletes. Hopefully this new hire can breathe some life into the Illini program!

Reply to  John
7 years ago

You do realize that the Northwestern women’s team is only slightly faster than the Illini squad, right? Both teams score in the bottom half of the Big Ten conference and last year’s dual meet was significantly closer than it has been in a few years.

Reply to  jman
7 years ago

If you really want to get into it, your wrath should not be directed towards Illinois but to the federal government instead. Honestly, do you really think we would have more college women’s programs than men’s if the federal government was not involved? Would schools really have men’s swimming over women’s if they had the choice?

The facts –

1. Illinois is in compliance with Title IX
2. By adding men’s swimming they would either have to increase their women’s offerings or cut another men’s sport
3. They won’t be adding women’s sports anytime soon
4. It would be hypocrisy to expect them to cut another men’s sport to add men’s swimming

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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