2013 was a banner year for the Mesa Aquatics Club. As the culmination of a period of investment and growth in the club representing Arizona’s third-largest city, they hosted their first edition of Mesa Grand Prix series this year, but a year of exponential growth in the prominence of the program isn’t over yet.
The Mesa Aquatics Club has merged with Sun Devil Aquatics, it was announced to the membership this morning, who will leave its location at Arizona State University and fold under the Mesa Aquatics Club name, creating a new Arizona super-team with over 600 members. The current Sun Devil Aquatics pre-senior and senior level groups will use the Rhodes Aquatic Center: an outdoor 8 lane 25 yard pool, which means that MAC will be adding a new site as well: a site that recently received a $6.5 million renovation. That Rhodes Aquatic Center is about 15 miles, and a 20-minute drive, from Sun Devil’s previous training site at Arizona State, though most of SDA’s membership is believed to live between the two sites.
There are a ton of moving parts in this merger. One is Sun Devil Aquatics’ head coach Scott Goodrich, who was newly-hired by the program. Goodrich brought with him Cesar Cielo: Olympic gold medalist, World Champion, and a World Record holding sprint freestyler from Brazil. Goodrich took over as the head coach of Sun Devil recently after Patrick Nalley left to take a position at Penn State.
Goodrich will head-up a new post-graduate group at the Kino Aquatic Center, one of two 50 meter facilities under the Mesa umbrella, and assume the position of National Training Group-Post Grad Director. His group will include Cielo, any other interested post-graduate swimmers, and national-level high school athletes.
As for Mike Chasson, the former head coach at Arizona State University and Sun Devil Aquatics, he will take over as Mesa’s Director of Club Development, where he will lead development of the post-graduate programs, the club’s swim school, and sponsorship opportunities. Chasson, and his Sun Devil Aquatics program, have been mired in the controversy for several months after allegations came to light that the program’s former head coach Greg Winslow sexually abused a teenage swimmer while at the club. Chasson was named as a defendant in a recent planned civil suit filed by his accuser, Whitney Lopus.
Mesa Aquatics Club was founded in 2009 by current head coach Paul Smith and his wife and head age group coach Laura Smith, and has since exploded into one of the most operationally-successful clubs in the region.
While neither program was recognized in this year’s USA Swimming Club Excellence program, the new combined program should achieve status next year, and certainly has the reach and facilities in place to expand its national footprint.