Northwestern Women’s Head Coach Jimmy Tierney Won’t Return Next Season After 27-Year Run

Northwestern Women’s Swimming & Diving Head Coach Jimmy Tierney will not return to the program next season, the school announced Tuesday. The announcement didn’t specify the nature of that decision, rather it simply stated that he “will not return.”

“For 27 seasons, Jimmy Tierney has dedicated himself to our women’s swimming and diving program,” Phillips said. “His student-athletes have been leaders in the classroom and the community not just at Northwestern, but in the Big Ten Conference. We truly are grateful for his service and wish him the very best.”

Tierney leaves the program with a career 126-94-1 dual meet record and 7 top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships (including six-straight from 1995-2000). His athletes have also earned 146 All-America honors.

“I am so thankful for my time as a member of the Wildcats’ Family,” Tierney said. “I have been blessed to have worked with many wonderful people who have a true passion and spirit for excellence. Coaching has not been a job but rather a labor of love due to the outstanding student-athletes I have had the pleasure of coaching.”

Despite patches of success during his tenure, the Wildcats have struggled to be competitive at the conference level over the last several years. They haven’t finished in the top half of the Big Ten conference since the 2007-2008 season when they were 5th out of 11 teams, and the Wildcats placed 9th out of 13 teams at the most recent championship meet.

Northwestern says that a national search for its next head coach “will begin immediately.”

Tierney’s sister, Dorsey Tierney-Walker, was dismissed as the head coach at Arizona State last month.

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6 years ago

As an alum of the Northwestern University women’s swimming program I am saddened to see Jimmy retire. He was an asset to the program for well over two decades. He gave the full strength of his heart and mind to developing the potential of every athlete. Thank you Jimmy for being such a devoted Wildcat. Go U Northwestern and go ‘Cats!

6 years ago

I had the pleasure of training with Jimmy during some of my summer seasons with Northwestern, and he is a fantastic coach. Helped many of us swim our fastest long course times ever, and he will truly be missed.

6 years ago

Any thoughts on current asst Anna Miller? National champion and captain at UGA- I’m naturally a fan with my past. She can connect to athletes on a whole new level knowing what’s facing the college athlete. It’s hard being a female student athlete and a huge benefit having someone who can relate as someone who has been through it recently. Carol Capatani changed my life bringing a female perspective and I think Anna could do the same.

Eric Skelly
6 years ago

So sad to hear Jimmy is no longer going to be at Northwestern. As a brand new coach in Illinois almost 20 years ago, he was willing to chat and give great advice to a young coach. Thank you for 27 great years.

6 years ago

Jimmy has done amazing things for that program and it will not be the same without him. What are these jabs about conference finish? It’s northwestern….they are not one of the Big Ten powerhouses. He produces results out of every talented swimmer who comes through that program

Former 'Cat
6 years ago

Jimmy is the most decent and kindest coach I have ever worked with. Thank you for all you have done for Northwestern Jimmy and best of luck!

Just sayin
6 years ago

Can I be the first to nominate the wife/husband alumni duo of Abby and Steve Steketee? They have done an amazing job at each stop inclining working with the men’s team during the Sergio era (we all know he was running the show). Sergio thought highly enough of them to bring them to WVa with him. Now their scoring points at NCAA’s at Nevada, NEVADA!

Make the smart hire Northwesten! Hire Abby!!!

6 years ago

No need to spread rumors about why he’s leaving. You don’t know the details. Several reasons played a factor in this. As an NU alum, I know there’d been discussion surrounding this decision for several years. Jimmy had been looking at other options, and this is clearly the best time for him, his family, and Northwestern to move on. Congrats on a successful 27 years at NU, Jimmy. Go ‘CATS!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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