Norm Wright Will Succeed Geoff Brown as Head Coach at NOVA of Virginia in 2020

NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Inc. has announced Norm Wright as new associate head coach, with the plan for Wright to take the helm as head coach for the 2020-2021 season. Wright will work alongside current head coach Geoff Brown for the 2019-2020 season.

Wright comes to NOVA from the Northern Kentucky Clippers where he coached 2018 Junior Pan Pacs and 2018 World Junior Open Water Championships medalist Mariah Denigan. Previous to his time with the Clippers, Wright coached Jessica Arnold at the Shenandoah Marlins Aquatic Club (SMAC). Arnold placed 11th at the 2012 FINA Junior Open Water World Championship in Welland, Ontario, and in 2014 she placed 16th FINA Junior Open Water World Championship in Hungary. On every occasion, Wright was a member of the Team USA Coaching Staff.

Brown’s run at NOVA is full of local, national, and international accolades as well. He has been named the Virginia Senior Coach of the Year 10 times in his career, the NCSA Coach of the Year 4 times, and in 2015 was named to the US staff for the World Junior Swimming Championships. Among the NOVA products are NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Townley Haas.

From NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Inc.:

NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Inc. is thrilled to announce the addition of Norm Wright to the NOVA Coaching Staff. Norm brings a wealth of coaching experience and accomplishments from his two previous head coach positions at Shenandoah Marlins (SMAC) here in Virginia and at the Northern Kentucky Clippers (CLPR), a team he shepherded to USA Swimming Gold Medal status. Norm has also been named a coach for several National Junior teams and has placed open and “closed” water athletes on the National Junior Team. He will be joining NOVA in the position of associate head coach after the 2019 long course season and will share the Senior Gold coaching responsibility with current head coach Geoff Brown for 2019-2020, transitioning to the role of head coach in the 2020-2021 season.

Other swimmers coming out of the program include Charlie Swanson, who is the three-time defending Big Ten Champion in the 400 IM, and 4-time ACC Champion Rachel Naurath.

Brown to Wright

“Several years ago, I began pondering NOVA’s future and began studying how athletic teams plan for the future. My quick conclusion was: very poorly. That was bad enough but when I began considering how teams move on from “founding” coaches, the news got no better. A great deal of that “bad news” seemed to occur because transitions were bungled or haphazard. NOVA is my passion and it has been gratifying to see it become a shared passion of so many coaches, swimmers, Board members and parents.”

“So I began pondering how to help this club I love transition to new leadership. I began looking around at every national meet both in the pool and on the deck to see what programs performed well and how their coaches led those teams. This past year, I began discussing with former Coach Leigh Peterson how we would move NOVA into an even better future. With Board blessing and advice, we began to enumerate the characteristics a successor coach needed to possess. We set high standards and we began to identify potential candidates.”

“Those high standards and that search process led us to Norm. He exudes high energy; he is highly organized and truly visionary; he has the coaching chops to step into a program like NOVA and move us into an exciting new era. Adding talented coaches to our coaching staff has always been a NOVA priority. A major expansion – the doubling of our current capacity when Regency Square 50 meter pool comes on line in the 2020-2021 season – is on NOVA’s very near horizon. That expanded capacity will need strong, younger leadership to move it forward in the next decade. We have identified Norm as being capable of that leadership and more: possessing the wisdom to respect what is here; having the vision, energy and business acumen to expand into what we see as a very bright future.”

“That brighter future means transitioning Norm into the Head Coaching role by Fall 2020. I will be working closely with Norm to ensure a smooth transition as the light of leadership passes from me to him. For me? I will be coaching Senior Gold with Norm and continue with my usual Novice Gold responsibilities. But NOVA deserves responsible, timely stewardship: it is time to begin the transition and I am excited to be working with Norm to achieve that end. We share big goals for NOVA. Norm’s previous coaching stint here in Virginia at SMAC gave him a close-in look at NOVA; he knows our strengths and our values and that knowledge has given him a very clear sense of where and how NOVA can and should grow. His past coaching achievements have been eye-catching. NOVA will offer him a much larger stage. I will endeavor to make Norm and NOVA successful any way I can. Our working closely together will be a key ingredient of this “’new era.'”

“Transitions work smoothly when the folks implementing them are determined, energetic and perceptive. Norm and I will bring a surfeit of energy and focus to this process. This will be about adding his vision and talents to those of our current coaching staff. That promises to be a heady mix. I’m excited to be embarking with Norm and the rest of the current coaching staff on NOVA’s latest journey.”

Wright Words

“I am extremely grateful to Geoff Brown and the Board of Directors at NOVA for giving me the opportunity to serve as the future leader of this program. Having coached in Virginia, I am very familiar with the tradition and culture of excellence that NOVA maintains, and I am thrilled to become a part of it. I believe in the values, mission and vision that Coach Brown has instilled in the program, and I am excited to get to work, as we transition in the coming year.”

“I would like to thank the Northern Kentucky Clippers for everything that they have done for me. I would also like to thank all the coaches and staff for the opportunities they provided me to work, learn and grow as a coach and a person. Ultimately, I want to thank all the athletes at the Clippers who have given me their best during our time together. Your efforts have made this opportunity possible, and I couldn’t be prouder to have called myself your coach.”

“My wife Megan and I look forward to the adventure that the future holds and to becoming part of NOVA and the Richmond community!”

In This Story

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

With Dudley Duncan of Quest Swimming retiring earlier and now Geoff Brown of NOVA handing over his mantle, Richmond swimming scene is getting greener. Interesting to see exciting new things coming…


Way to go Norm!


He didn’t even finish the season! Just left! You can have him NOVA! Mariah Denigan left also.

Same Story Different Day

Coaches leave and swimmer leave as well. Nothing new here. Most of the time coaches leave because they are pushed out the door. I heard he ask to stay until nationals and was pushed out after new coach was named, anyone know who that is going to be? don’t blame Denigan at all if that is the situation she was left with.


If you heard he got pushed out the door by the new head coach. Then you should know who the new coach is. What I said was fact, what you said is I heard.

Same Story Different Day

I didn’t say the new coach pushed him out, I just said “push out after new coach was named”. I figured it was a board and staff that was more interested in back the new guy. Oh well not my problem.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

Read More »