Johnathan Jordan will become the official head coach of WAVES at the Bloomington-Normal YMCA, located in Bloomington, IL on May 16th. Jordan was previously the head coach of nearby Lincoln College’s swim program since 2015.
Jordan lost his previous position due to Lincoln College’s permanent closure that will be effective starting Friday. With the institution no longer operating, Jordan will head about 30 minutes north to succeed Charles Yourd, who is stepping down from his long tenure as head coach of WAVES.
Prior to coaching, Jordan swam competitively at Albion College, where he earned his bachelor’s in pre-law. He then furthered his education at the University of South Dakota receiving his master’s in health and physical education/fitness. While at South Dakota, Jordan initiated his coaching career by taking on a graduate assistant coaching position.
Upon completion of his studies, Jordan became the head coach at Iowa Lakes Community College, a Junior College that competes in the NJCAA. He also worked with the Oceania National Olympic Committees, which sent athletes to swim for him. Here, Jordan met his first elite swimmer from the Marshall Islands, which are located between Hawaii and the Philippines. Giordan Harris was the first athlete in the Marshall Islands to receive the Oceania Australia Foundation Scholarship – the Oceania National Olympic Committees’ program that provides athletes two years of academic sports scholarships to selected US junior colleges.
Harris competed at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and trained under Jordan from 2013 to 2015. During that time, Jordan traveled with Harris for the World Championships, Oceania Championships, and Pacific Games.
Jordan led the Iowa Lakes swim team for five years before switching over to Lincoln College.
Lincoln College hosted an exchange program catered toward Pacific Islanders that brought the swim team more talented individuals from the Marshall Islands. The two Marshallese athletes, Colleen Furgeson and Phillip Kinono, competed last summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games. They asked Jordan to join them as the head coach of the Marshall Islands Olympic swim team. He accepted their invitation and “was able to tweak [his Olympic] dream and go as a coach.”
Jordan will be next to lead the WAVES team after Yourd, who has been in charge for the last 24 years. A handful of recognizable swimmers who have made appearances on the national and international stages from WAVES are Grace Ariola, Melissa Pish, and Emily Hanson. Ariola was a US National Team member and World Junior medalist; Pish was a US National Junior Team member; and Hanson was a US National Team and Open Water World Champs Team member. Another Waves alumna, Monica Drake, was a National Junior Team member who would also go on to swim on an American Record-setting women’s 400 free relay for the University of Arizona.
WAVES alumna Caitlin Hamilton, who was an All-American at Purdue, is the head coach of the Illinois State University women’s swimming & diving program, also located in Normal, IL.
This summer will see more big changes for the WAVES: a new $23 million Bloomington-Normal YMCA is expected to open later this year, giving the WAVES a state-of-the-art aquatics facility to use.