NOVA of Virginia Hires New Senior Gold Coach

NOVA of Virginia Aquatics has hired Jonathan Kaplan, the former head coach of the Panama City Swim Team, to join their staff in late August of 2013.

Kaplan will work primarily with senior-level swimmers, including the team’s three highest-level groups for high school swimmers: Senior Gold, Senior Silver, and Senior Development.

Kaplan led a big improvement in 7 years at the helm of Panama City, including their first ever top 10 finish at the Southeastern Swimming Championships in 2011, including putting three swimmers into Nationals and 11 swimmers to Junior Nationals, and the team’s first ever Olympic Trials qualifier: Auburn commit Michael Duderstadt.

Kaplan’s prior stops include as a graduate assistant at Florida State and coaching the middle distance group and acting as recruiting coordinator at Clemson.

“For years I have been aware of the incredible success NOVA has enjoyed, and it has been intriguing watching the program grow and improve into one of the premier aquatics programs in the nation,” said Kaplan. “In addition to its athletic dominance, I am thrilled to be a part of the NOVA family because of how dedicated the entire staff and membership are to building successful individuals through the sport of swimming. Our philosophies match perfectly, and I am eager to start working toward an even brighter NOVA future.”

The move is significant, as NOVA is one of the biggest producers of recruits for college programs on the Eastern seaboard. Among the well-known alumni from the group that Kaplan will be coaching include North Carolina’s Emma Nunn, Virginia’s Alison Haulsee and Rachel Naurath, and Florida’s Rebecca Rainer. The program has sent swimmers to the University of Virginia in each of the last 8 graduating classes.

Among the top swimmers still in the program include talented young distance swimmer Jessie Gvozdas on the women’s side, and a group of young male sprinters that includes Francis Haas, who as just a 15-16 this past short course season was 21.0/45.2/1:37.5/4:23.4 in the freestyles, with talent all the way up to a 9:10 in the 1000 and 15:16 in the 1650. Andrew Branin is another very good swimmer out of that wave, with a 56.8 in the 100 yard breaststroke.

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Congrats Jonathan!

jim grazier

you da man! congratulations. NOVA couldnt have made a better selection for the position. your passion for the sport of swimming precedes you.


My child has been a PVS swimmer for years. This comment does not pertain to NOVA (do not swim there), but does pertain to club swimming here in PVS — and elsewhere for the matter — in general. At what age is it okay for your child to decide that they are not going to progress in competitive swimming (do not have the “big talent”), and will pursue their other activities and talents with more time? I know that swimming has taught my child work ethic, discipline, time management, and healthy habits, but if the talent is not there (makes JOs and Zones, but so many other age-group swimmers are so much faster) then at what age is it acceptable… Read more »

Mike Peters

I have now coached for 11 years at both the club, college, high school, and summer league level and although I understand the frustration. I do not think there is ever a magic age to leave swimming to pursue other talents, but must be an individual decision. In my swimming and coaching career I have seen many of those “superstar” age group swimmers never make it after early teen years, and have seen many “late bloomers” go on to receive college scholarships. I never made a zone team, never finished in the top 50 at a JO meet, and would have been by other sports considered “not having talent.” I enjoyed swimming, and refused to believe I could never be… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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