James Madison University has hired Richard Long as their new head coach he confirmed Monday evening. Long comes to the program after 7 seasons as an assistant at his alma mater Auburn.
This is the second Auburn veteran assistant who has left the program this year for a head coaching job elsewhere, next to Frank Bradley who became the head coach at Florida State.
Long was at Auburn for the last 6 of their men’s SEC Championships, and was around for the 2007 men’s and women’s teams that were SEC and NCAA Championships as a volunteer assistant, and as a full-time assistant in 2009 when the men won NCAA’s. In between, he was a videographer, and in the summer of 2009 served as an assistant coach for Paraguay at the World Championships.
He takes over for head coach Samantha Smith, who retired at the end of last season. For Long, this is a bit of a homecoming, as he is a native Virginian, originally from Hampton, which is across the state from James Madison in Harrisonburg.
James Madison, which only sponsors a women’s team, finished 2nd at last year’s CAA Championships. They had some notable graduations, but will return another very impressive senior class. That includes Kelsey Holmgaard, who was the conference champion in the 200 IM and 200 breaststroke and runner-up in the 400 IM and was the 3rd-leading individual scorer in the conference last year. Other returning standouts include Shannon Dubay and Sin Hye Won. Between those three swimmers, all very similar in skill, James Madison scored at the CAA Championships:
- Two of the top three spots in the 100 breaststroke
- The top three spots in the 200 IM
- Three of the top five spots in the 200 breaststroke
Won qualified for last year’s NCAA Championship meet in both breaststrokes, but finished ranked in the 40’s in both races.
In short, Long is inheriting a much healthier team than a lot of coaches we’ve seen take new roles this off-season. If the team had a weakness last year, it was probably the 50 freestyle, where they were just 3rd in the conference, and with Long’s history from being with the sprint group at Auburn for 7 years, that shouldn’t last long. JMU won’t face conference rivals, and defending champions, Towson in a regular season dual this year. Towson beat James Madison by just under 50 points at last year’s CAA Championships.
See the team’s full schedule below:
|* Conference Games