Kentucky Head Swim Coach Lars Jorgensen Has Been Off Deck Since Early May

by Riley Overend 219

June 21st, 2023 College, News, SEC

Sources tell SwimSwam that University of Kentucky head swimming and diving coach Lars Jorgensen has been away from the pool deck since the beginning of May pending an investigation into potential NCAA compliance rules violations.

Sources described it as a “suspension” in the general sense, but Kentucky did not respond to a request for comment on the exact nature of Jorgensen’s leave.

One source close to the program told SwimSwam that the latest violations are not Jorgensen’s first offense. According to the source, he was also suspended for the Wildcats’ SEC opener at Texas A&M last November, but did not inform the team of the reason for his absence.

The source also said that the entire Kentucky swimming coaching staff was suspended for one week at the start of May. Assistant coaches Jordan Lieberman, Geena Freriks, and Bailey Bonnett are now back on deck with Kentucky Aquatics, but associate head coach Michael Camper has apparently resigned after five seasons in Lexington.

Camper’s departure comes two years after he was promoted from assistant to associate head coach of the Wildcats. Prior to arriving at Kentucky in 2018, the Virginia native and former NC State standout served as an assistant at Pitt. Camper did not respond to SwimSwam’s requests for comment, but his LinkedIn profile indicates he recently took a new job outside of the swimming world as a territory manager for Gardner Inc., a lawn equipment distributor.

Inconveniently, the team was not informed of the issues with their coaching staff until May 1, the day after the transfer portal closed for women’s swimmers on April 30. Swimmers also had to participate in recorded interviews with Kentucky’s compliance department that were sent to the NCAA as part of the investigation, according to the source.

Jorgensen just wrapped up his 10th season leading Kentucky’s combined swimming and diving program. In 2021, he guided the Wildcat women to their first SEC title ever. This past season, the Kentucky women placed 3rd at the 2023 SEC Championships and the men placed 8th as freshman distance specialist Levi Sandidge became the Wildcats’ first-ever conference champion in the men’s 1650-yard freestyle.

As a swimmer, Jorgensen set program records at the University of Tennessee and went on to represent the U.S. at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. He has also held the record for the Ironman World Championships for nearly two decades with a swimming split of 46:41.

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Survivor 1
8 months ago

I had a very bad experience with Lars. It was extremely inappropriate and unsafe and I am really concerned about it happening to someone else in the future because I know I’m not alone. I’m working with a group of attorneys/lawyers who specialize in my case for support and help considering the best paths to accountability, meaningful reform, and protecting others. If you need support or want to be part of that conversation, you can reach out to us at [email protected].

UK Issues Continue
8 months ago

Attention Moderator…Just found out that the portal has been open 21 days without notification to the current swimmers on the team and will only be open for 9 more days. Where is the communication, transparency, trust, and leadership? Who is advocating for these athletes?

Another perspective
9 months ago

A head coach is the steward of the program. It is a privilege to represent the university. Alumni have a voice and should hold a coach accountable. This is heartbreaking for our sport. Communication, respect, and mentoring are key components to successful coaching. Be better!

TrueBlue
Reply to  Another perspective
9 months ago

Very good point, how do you hold a program accountable when a head coach cuts alumni out? In the mind of the current coaching staff pre Lars swimmers don’t matter and are not communicated with or allowed to be apart of the program. At this point it makes sense why. When you create a bubble around the culture you’ve created no one can blow the whistle on you.

Another perspective
Reply to  TrueBlue
9 months ago

I’m sorry to hear this. Such a missed opportunity for all parties involved. A strong alumni network is a critical building block of strong team culture.

Hope
9 months ago

Sending love to the athletes affected by this monster and his manipulative tactics and abuse.

This Guy
9 months ago

Would having Riley Gaines as a prominent alum and causing attention to the program (attention that a coach certainly want to have to deal with – topic doesn’t matter, it’s an additional issue) cause some candidates to think twice about pursuing the head coaching position? Just a weird thought I had.
I would say it possibly could. Having to deal with media questions/attention about non coaching issues seems like an additional burden that may not be ideal

Last edited 9 months ago by This Guy
True Blue
Reply to  This Guy
9 months ago

Riley Gaines and her platform (no matter where you stand in relation to the beliefs) do not represent UK swimming. She utilized her swimming career, a connection with this coach, and the fundamentalist views of the UK AD to launch herself into a main stream media opportunity by allowing one political side to use her as a mouthpiece. She can continue whatever platform she thinks she’s defending. But her connection with UK will fade as quickly as the Lars and remain gone as long as the conscience of the Mitch Barnhart for allowing all this to play out.

Eddie Rowe
Reply to  True Blue
9 months ago

Your comment is disgusting.

Riley isn’t being used as a mouthpiece. She’s defending women with sincerity.

Coach Tom
Reply to  This Guy
9 months ago

I seriously doubt it. That’s a really good job and it’s very easy for a new coach to wash their hands of an alumna they never coached.

Jess
Reply to  This Guy
9 months ago

She hitched her wagon to the WRONG horses. Those people don’t actually care about women’s sports. They all railed against the USNWT for demanding equal pay on the soccer pitch. She is letting them use her as a political pawn. And it’s not like she came in 2nd. She TIED for FIFTH place.

distanceswammer
Reply to  Jess
9 months ago

And she still got her trophy in the end it just took a couple extra days…

Common sense.
9 months ago

It’s time for UK Administration to do the right thing and change the culture for the better. Sometimes doing what is right is better than fear of lawsuits from Lars over contracts.

Howie
Reply to  Common sense.
9 months ago

Lars is sinking in quicksand. His woes are way beyond compliance and trying fight a contract through any lawsuit. The AD is gutless ignoring numerous warnings about his hiring of this “coach” years ago. He’s complicit in any findings that are going to come up about Lars in the near future. Again not a frivolous comment. Just 1st hand knowledge of so many bad things regarding Lars and his behaviors for 17 years now. Finally some important people have listened and are highly involved.

MACmomma
Reply to  Howie
9 months ago

First off you have no “first hand experience” you came into a team after he was there and your, at the time, gf had dated him. You two then turned around and destroyed a MAC renowned program Lars created. The girls went from a cohesive bonded team. To back stabbers and undercutting wannabes. You yourself were guilty of verbally abusing a few of their leading team members to the verge of them quitting and transferring. You also played favorites. Then, when you broke up with the head coach you quit to “make a career change”. Stay in your own lane bruh.

Ashley
Reply to  MACmomma
9 months ago

Yes MACmomma! Slow clapping over here! 👏🏼👏🏼

stop creating drama
Reply to  Common sense.
9 months ago

The culture of the girls team is phenomenal, this isn’t a culture issue so don’t speak if you don’t know what you are talking about.

Old guy
Reply to  stop creating drama
9 months ago

Wow you don’t know what you’re talking about

ByeByeLars
Reply to  stop creating drama
9 months ago

That is a TOTAL lie. Either you’re not on the team or you’re just delusional

David Worthington
Reply to  stop creating drama
9 months ago

Culture of the women’s team is phenomenal?

Is that why Lars got removed and sent home from the CSCAA clinic right before speaking about creating culture? Was told to pack his bags and get out! Why? Because they know what most of you don’t. Who are you? His best friend Ray Looze?

I have first hand knowledge that this guy is a predator. First hand. Women that I know have been brutally assaulted by this clown. It’s been happening for over 20 years. The Wild(cat) is out of the bag. Unfortunately nobody has been listening or cared enough about the athletes to do anything about it. I’ve reported him numerous times with specific details and yet, nothing. … Read more »

Southeastern swim fan
Reply to  David Worthington
9 months ago

You realize that your accusations of “predator” are libelous?

bigpurpledinosaur
Reply to  Southeastern swim fan
9 months ago

They’re not libelous if they’re true and/or opinions.

There is no disputing at this point that he had a sexual relationship with one of his student-athletes at Toledo. It was reported long ago (why didn’t he sue then?) and is pretty well known in the swimming community.

Whether that makes him a predator or not is then a matter of opinion.

People saying things you don’t like about a person you do like doesn’t make them ‘libel’.

Eddie Rowe
Reply to  bigpurpledinosaur
9 months ago

Stating them as facts does in fact make it libel.

Howie
Reply to  Southeastern swim fan
9 months ago

You realize that we have 1st hand witness evidence and knowledge. My comments are not frivolous and I’ve been waiting 12 years for this to become a “legal matter”. I can only hope soon for a case to come about where Lars pursues legal action. By doing so he’ll have to answer questions under oath. Game over. That guy hasn’t been able to look me in the eye since 2011 and knows exactly who I am, where I call home, and with whom I’m connected to. I’ve been preparing for this for a very long time.

ABCDEFG
Reply to  stop creating drama
9 months ago

It’s not phenomenal it actually sucks

stop creating drama
Reply to  ABCDEFG
9 months ago

how do you know… are you on the team?

Jeni
9 months ago

This is very sad for everyone involved but more common than anyone wants to admit. I know too many swimmers on different teams who have had similar experiences.

Former UK Swimmer
9 months ago

As a former UK swimmer that transferred after my freshman year, this does not surprise me at all. I was recruited as a middle distance swimmer and to my surprise, was placed into the distance group that endured the most grueling practices. I also was ridiculed about my weight. I was never close to being overweight or out of shape. I was 140 pounds at 5’8 and told after the bod pod they make all the swimmers do at the beginning of the year I needed to be apart of the “running group” which was forced to run at 5 AM in the pitch black on mornings we didn’t have morning practice. He forced young college girls to run 4+… Read more »

Maddie deucher
Reply to  Former UK Swimmer
9 months ago

thank you for sharing! I’m sorry you had to go through this but glad you transferred and realized college swimming is nothing like how it is at UK. I always felt like I was the only one going through this because if I ever voiced my opinions I was being ridiculous. I do remember those runs that were “optional”

Wildcat for life
Reply to  Maddie deucher
9 months ago

I’m not discrediting your experience and emotions that came with your time at UK. But the optional running group stopped in spring 2019, you arrived in the summer 2019. I was willingly apart of the workout group, it was ran by members of the team who felt like they could benefit from cross training. In fall 2019 our weights program shifted to the morning, making us unable to do our runs. So if you’re going to speak negatively about our team at least be honest and transparent.

Howie
Reply to  Wildcat for life
9 months ago

Who’s not being transparent here? The one that uses some phony name when they comment?

4-4-4
Reply to  Wildcat for life
9 months ago

While the “optional” runs did end in the 19-20 season, we still did do some runs in the fall. I recall several days where we would run for an hour and then swim for an hour in the afternoon. I remember Maddie being a part of these runs.

Maddie deucher
Reply to  4-4-4
9 months ago

Not the 4-4-4😭😭

Wildcat for life
Reply to  4-4-4
9 months ago

Yep, those were our pre-season workouts to help get back in shape. They were done during our practice time. Not the “optional runs” she was originally referring to.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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