Scottsdale Aquatic Club head coach and CEO Kevin Zacher has accepted the head coaching position at the Santa Clara Swim Club. His last day in Scottsdale will be July 31, after the conclusion of the Olympic Games, ending a nearly 20-year run with the team.
Zacher joined Scottsdale in 2002 as an assistant coach and was promoted to head coach in 2007. Since that time, the Scottsdale program has grown to a 500-member club. During his tenure, the club has won 3 Junior National titles,set several National Age Group Records, and sent 10 swimmers to the 2016 U.S> Olympic Trials.
Among Scottsdale’s most notable alumni of the last few years is Ryan Hoffer, who recently completed his senior season at Cal, where he’s won 7 career NCAA event titles.
Other noteable Scottsdale alums include NCAA runner-up Carl Mickelson, Junior National Champion Jack Blake, Arizona High School State Champion Claire Grover, and Canadian Taylor Ruck, who won 2 Olympic bronze medals in 2016 as a teenager while training with Zacher.
“As I take the next step in my career to a new challenge, I am so proud of all we have accomplished at SAC from continuing to dominate in Arizona State Championships to winning our first Sectional Team Championship in 2011, winning Junior Nationals three times, to having swimmers from SAC compete (and win medals) in the 2016 Rio Games.”
Zacher will bring some stability to Santa Clara, a program that has had uncertain leadership since former head coach John Bitter was arrested on charges that he embezzled money from the club. That club has not formally announced a new head coach in the last few years, though several individuals have filled those duties. Dave Meck is currently leading the program’s top level Senior 4 National group.
The Santa Clara Swim Club is one of the most storied programs in the history of American swimming. Founded in 1951 by George Haines, the list of the club’s alumni is a veritable who’s-who of American swimming in the 1960s and 1970s. That includes names like 9-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz, Pablo Morales, Don Schollander, Chris von Saltza, Lynn Burke, George Harrison, Steve Clark, and Paul Hait. More recent Santa Clara swimmers to achieve Olympic glory include Tom Jager, a 5-time Olympic gold medalist in 1984, 1988, and 2002, and Mike Bottom, an Olympian and the current head coach at the University of Michigan.
The club has lost some of its prominence more recently, though, they still are a club that consistently sends swimmers to national meets. Four swimmers who have achieved at least Wave I cuts for the 2021 US Olympic Swimming Trials while registered with Santa Clara: Max Saunders and Kyler Van Swol on the boys’ side, and Nicole Oliva and Zoe Zeller on the girls’ side. Those were all Wave I cuts.
Scottsdale is the second major club in Arizona to announce a change in leadership in the last week. Garrett McCaffrey also resigned as head coach of the nearby Phoenix Swim Club.