Jon Urbanchek, legendary coach on coaching with Bowman, Salo, and Bottom

Jon Urbanchek, a legendary coach, is best known for his 22 years as Head Coach at University of Michigan, and placing many athletes on the Olympic Team. He, himself, has coached on a few Olympic Teams.

Since “retirement”, he continues to positively influence United States Swimming, having helped run a post grad program in California. He also has coached with Bob Bowman, Mike Bottom, and Dave Salo. He says he has enjoyed “coaching with three of the best coaches on the planet”.

He shares some interesting tidbits:

“The next recovery workout was yesterday”

“Dave Salo swam for me in college.” “He learned what NOT to do”.

Dave Salo is known as a sprint coach, and yet he also has the fastest 10 k person on the planet, and 50 swimmer.

In training: loves race pace stuff, not a lot of BS work. “Everything we do has a purpose”.

500 work: under 4:10 – hold 49s in practice day in, day out. Do 10-12 of them.

200 work: 2×50 on 40, hold 23.

We are blessed to still have these wise coaches, such as Jon Urbanchek, Richard Shoulberg, Eddie Reese, Nort Thornton, Skip Kenney, Don Gambril, Dennis Pursley, and many others, still around to learn from. Most of them are still positively influencing swimming on a global scale.

Thanks, Jon!

To follow Jon,


Katrina Radke is an Olympic Swimmer, Sport Psychology Professor, Bestselling Author of Be Your Best Without the Stress, and 7 Ultimate Fitness Routines. She also runs a motivational, peak potential business, WECOACH4U with her husband, Olympic Coach and former Stanford Coach, Ross Gerry.

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Thank you Swimswam for a great interview. Urbanchek’s suggestions on race pace training are very interesting. Dave Salo’s influence (and maybe Dave Durden, not sure) has been felt all over the sport. I wonder if Bowman is doing some of the same things?


Jon was doing those race pace sets before Bowman or Durden were born!




How was this a good interview? What did you learn from it? That all coaches want their swimmers to go fast in practice? She was too busy fishing for specific workout times, which he would obviously never give because he’s coached way too many elite swimmers to be impressed by any single workout. This guy is probably one of he most knowledgable people in the swimming world and she blew it, in my opinion. You can ask better questions than how fast do fast swimmers swim


To be fair tough venue to get an in-depth interview. Maybe SwimSwam can get Jon to sit down and talk about coaching with Salo, Bottom and Bowman….where they are similar and how they different. Perhaps Katrina can even bring an old copy of Sprint Salo with her to the interview


I disagree. Two major takeaway points highlighting the times a 4:10 500 guy has to be able to go, and the type of 50 speed a great SCY 200 guy must have in practice. This is right on- and eye-opening to the athletes who just don’t get it.

You have to be able to do these times many many times within a two hour period (during an active rest set) to get the results at the meets.


This is a great interview because of Jon Urbancheck. That guy has forgot more about swimming then everyone posting here knows! He gives great insight to how fast you have to train at practice and he KNOWS!!!! Great questions that set up amazing answers. The headline on the video is a little misleading.

Great point about recovery…it was yesterday!

About Katrina Radke

Katrina Radke, MFT, is an internationally recognized Olympian, therapist, college psychology instructor, and a peak performance and health coach for many fields, including business, sport psychology, fitness, wellness and nutrition. She is a motivational speaker for corporate, educational and public events, and works with top physicians and health professionals. She …

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