Sean Hutchison Leaving FAST to Start Own Professional Program

Sean Hutchison, who is one of America’s top coaches, is leaving the FAST Swim Team in Fullerton, California to start his own program, the USA Today is reporting.

Hutchison is heavily involved in the USA National Team program, including being one of the coaches who recently accompanied the team to Dubai since he coaches 5 of the 18 swimmers on the women’s team. This includes Katie Hoff, who took gold in the 400 free and silver in the 200 free, and budding-star Dagny Knutson. Hutchison came to the FAST program just over a year ago.

Hutchison’s departure has been surrounded by plenty of rumors about what the possible reason could be. Some have speculated that he might be upset about Mark Schubert’s unceremonious firing from USA-Swimming. At FAST, Hutchison was coaching one of the United States Olympic Committee’s “Center’s of Excellence.”

The other more heinous rumor is that Hutchison’s departure might have to do with an inappropriate relationship with one of his swimmers. In the current atmosphere of college swimming, such rumors can be a death knell, despite the fact that Hutchison worked predominantly with adult athletes. While any relationship with a college-aged swimmer wouldn’t be illegal, it would still be unethical under the ASCA and USA-Swimming’s new guidelines.

Bill Jewell, who is in charge of the FAST program, told the USA Today that “I brought these issues to Sean’s attention, and Sean denied these things. I, in turn, was relieved with his denial. But still, I’m a guy running this club and I’ve got rumors flying around out there. I’ve got parents saying, ‘Is my child safe in your place?’ I have to address these kind of issues.”

He also remarked that the rumors made him “uncomfortable,” but that they in no way should imply that Hutchison was fired.

Hutchison’s reasoning is far more benign. He explains that he has planned for quite some time to leave and begin his own professional swim team to train elite athletes to international and olympic success. This is very much a similar role to the one he held at FAST, but this program would no longer be controlled by the US Olympic Committee.

The timing of the move makes sense. With just over 18 months until the London Olympics, and the beginning of the long course season that will lead up to this summer’s World Championships, now is the ideal time to make the transition both for Hutchison as well as the FAST program.

We have no reason to believe any of the rumors, as Hutchison throughout his career has been a stand-up individual, but if anything more comes from them, we will be sure to share them.

Jewell had hoped the transition would be made by the end of the year, and announced Hutchison’s last day as Friday. There’s no word on who will replace him, though there is a possibility that he will take many of his top swimmers with him and that the USOC will deemphasize FAST as a post-grad center.

This likely means that Hutchison is not interested in the National Team Director job that was vacated by the release of the aforementioned Schubert. As one of the best, and hottest, coaches in the country, many pegged him as a front-runner for the position.

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10 years ago

“Sean Hutchison, who is one of America’s top coaches”

Interesting way to start this story. I’m not sure America’s top coaches would consider him a member of the group. I think the middle-of-the-road coaches might even be angered that he would be considered amongst them.

10 years ago

Wow Larry, nice sneak attack from the vail of anonymity.. Personal issues with Coach Hutchinson??

Just because the man might not be’the old school ‘grind ’em til you find ’em’ means of swimmer development doesn’t make him a hack. That is what you are implying by not equating him with elite or middle of the road coaches. Where does that put me then? I must be a terrible coach!

Furthermore, I would assume helping one of the greatest American female (and either gender) swimmers of all time resurrect her career doesn’t mean anything to you? Anyone can coach Katie Hoff, right? Well accept Bowman and Yetter (beyond Age group), but they aren’t any good either..

Stay classy, Larry…

10 years ago

You are correct in saying Hutchinson is a world class coach and I don’t believe their are many that would dispute that.
I thought Jewells comments in the Baltimore Sun article were interesting though …. “dog and pony show” ?
Jewell is a stand up guy and has been around for awhile and he didn’t appear to be sorry Sean was moving on.

I am curious as to whether he will move back to King where he still is listed as CEO/head coach. He never severed those ties and maybe that is where he can have the autonomy he wants.

Will Urbanchek run the whole show out there now? Another great coach but very different training style by… Read more »

10 years ago

Perhaps one of USA Swimming “rising stars” is an apt description of his status. In my mind, that’s the same as one of the top coaches but could see how some old hands might want to see him succeed for a bit longer before inducting him into the Hall of Fame. I disagree with Larry’s clearly disparaging remark that he might not even be considered “middle of the road” coach whatever that means.
Lots of potential threads to this story…..Shubert gone as mentor….Jewell perhaps not totally comfortable with Hutchison’s style re promotion…..Hutchison’s rightful desire to run his own program…re the rumors I’m treating them as unsubstantiated talk until something else more concrete comes to the surface. I would hope… Read more »

10 years ago

I hope this program going to help the swimmers. Sports coaching is the toughest job and experience really matters here. Coach should be inspiring.

10 years ago

how about B.Pajer ..UCI shut down a quickly developing national level D1 program and left Pajer hanging without a net. He has repeatedly proven he can develop swimmers into gold contenders. UCI no longer is hospitable toward swimming??? …this would be a good move for SoCal, Pajer, and US training situation at FAST.

10 years ago

I kind of wondered if Schubert being ousted might effect the elite centers. Does anyone think that maybe Hutch might be moving on partly because it was Schubert who talked him into taking an elite center in the first place? I mean, really… I figured there would be more changes to the elite programs than just this one. If I was talked into leaving the club I built to head a site for a big USA Swimming project, and then the guy who headed the project was booted, I would have a hard time still believing that I was in the right place. ya know what I’m sayin’?

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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