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.