Seven-Time NCAA Champion, U.S. Olympic Head Coach Jack Bauerle Retires

After an illustrious 46-year career at the University of Georgia and multiple U.S. Olympic coaching roles, Jack Bauerle has announced his retirement.

Bauerle has been the head coach of the UGA women’s swim & dive team for the last 43 seasons, beginning in 1979, and took over the men’s program in 1983. His coaching career started three seasons prior to taking over the head coaching role, serving as an assistant following his graduation as a four-year letter winner with the ‘Dawgs.

He is the longest-tenured coach in Georgia Athletics history and is tied with former LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux for the longest reign of all-time in the SEC.

Under Bauerle’s watch, the Georgia women won seven NCAA titles, including winning three straight from 1999 to 2001 and then claiming three more in four seasons from 2013 to 2016. They also won the overall title in 2005.

From 1999 until 2016, the Lady Bulldogs either finished first or second at NCAAs in 15 of 18 seasons.

The team also won 12 SEC Championship titles, as Bauerle was named NCAA Coach of the Year seven times and while earning the conference honor 16 times.

On the men’s side, Bauerle was twice named the SEC Coach of the Year (1992, 1997), leading the Bulldogs to a number of runner-up finishes at the conference championships while bringing them as high as third at NCAAs.

“It is a bittersweet moment in Georgia Athletics history,” said UGA Director of Athletics Josh Brooks. “Jack has been the foundation of unparalleled success of our men’s and women’s swimming and diving program for a half a century.

“While we will miss him on the pool deck, we know that Jack will always be a part of our athletics family, and I look forward to working with him in different capacities as an involved alumnus. We wish him the very best in this next phase of his life.”

Men and women combined (including relays), Bauerle has coached 62 different men and women to 175 individual NCAA titles, with freshman Matt Sates joining the list in 2022 by claiming the men’s 500 free. This past season also saw Luca Urlando break the American Record in the men’s 100 backstroke at the championships. Bauerle has coached a total of 304 student-athletes to All-American status.

On top of all his success at the collegiate level, Bauerle has been a staple on USA Swimming National Team staffs throughout the last two decades, most notably serving as the U.S. Women’s Head Coach for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He was also an assistant coach for the women’s team in Sydney (2000) and for the men’s squad in both Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2021). He was also a member of the staff as a personal coach in 2004 and 2012.

At the World Championships, Bauerle was the U.S. head coach in 2003, 2005 and 2011, along with serving as an assistant in 2001, 2007, 2017 and 2019.

The list of swimmers Bauerle has coached to Olympic success would be too long to list, but at last summer’s Games in Tokyo, UGA sent seven swimmers (past and present) to Tokyo, which was the most among any NCAA program. Among those was individual medalists Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who finished 1-2 in the men’s 400 IM.

Bauerle has been battling health issues for the last number of years, which is believed to be the cause of him missing the past season’s SEC Championships.

In addition to his coaching accolades, Bauerle has also dedicated plenty of time to charitable causes, including playing a 125 consecutive hours of tennis with three partners in 1983 to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He has also served as the Northeastern Georgia Chairman for the United Way, and the Honorary Chairman for the World of Wonder project that rasied over $500,00 for the construction of playgrounds.

The University of Georgia release announcing the retirement concludes with a statement from Bauerle, which you can read below:

It’s time.

It’s time for me, for my family, and for my team.

First, I want to thank my wife Leigh Ann, and my sons John, Magill, and Duke for their commitment and sacrifice over the years. Leigh Ann has not only been a huge source of support, but my greatest motivator. The sport of swimming runs year-round and can be all-consuming at times, but they have constantly been understanding and supportive.

Thank you to our president Jere Morehead, our athletic director Josh Brooks, and our sport facilitator Darrice Griffin for their support. President Morehead and Darrice have been critical in helping us navigate these past few years, and with Josh, one of my few regrets is that I only wish we had more time to work together. I also want to share my gratitude to Vince Dooley and Liz Murphey for taking a chance on me in 1979 and entrusting me with this program. Working for and knowing Coach Dooley has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, and I cherish our friendship.

Thank you to the student-athletes for everything they have given me over the years. They have truly motivated me as much I have motivated them. During my time, we have had the privilege of coaching 87 Olympians from 20 different nations, bringing home 40 medals in the process. Last year in Tokyo was another major success for our program. In addition to our Olympic success, 62 different athletes have won 175 NCAA championships, with hundreds of All-America honors. I have had so many great kids, and I miss so many of them every day.

But our accomplishments have not only come in the water, but in the classroom as well. Over 43 seasons, our program has produced three NCAA Woman of the Year winners and 39 NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipients, more than most athletic departments across the country. Those statistics are the ones that I am proudest of.

Thank you to the coaches I have had the pleasure of working with over all these years. I will miss the conversation, humor, and banter on the deck at 5:30 a.m. We definitely solved a lot of problems before the world woke up every morning, and I am grateful for their dedication and assistance. I especially want to thank Harvey Humphries for serving at my side for 39 years. I am excited to see the coaching careers of my athletes unfold, both here at Georgia and throughout the swimming world.

Additionally, special thanks to the colleagues and mentors who have helped me become a better coach during my career. I specifically want to thank Bob Bowman, Frank Busch, Eddie Reese, Dick Shoulberg, and Jon Urbanchek for their friendship and guidance.

Finally, thank you to the countless members of our support staff who have given their time and talents toward making our program the best one possible. In particular, I want to thank the employees of the Ramsey Center for maintaining a world-class facility for our athletes and our university.

I am not yet sure of what I am going to be doing immediately, but I’ll be doing something. When I left Philadelphia for Athens in 1970, I fell in love with Georgia, but I could have never predicted the good fortune I would encounter and the wonderful people I would meet. I will miss being on the deck every day, but I am forever proud of everything we have accomplished at the University of Georgia.

Last season, the Bulldogs had four associate head coaches working under Bauerle: Jerry ChamperBrian SmithStefanie Williams Moreno and Neil Versfeld. Champer and Smith have both served in their current role for the past nine seasons, with Champer the longest-tenured among the four, having spent the 19 seasons in Athens.

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5 months ago

I remember U at PAC . Don S. was your coach.U set an age group record in the relay

5 months ago

Congratulations, Jack. Plenty of time to go to the Bahamas now!

pete kennedy
5 months ago

Many memories from the days long ago when women’s swimming was under AIAW.
Enjoyed the contest between Georgia and Brenau.

Have a great retirement – Jack. You have earned it and been a credit to
Collegiate and American swimming.

5 months ago

Congrats coach on a great career! You will be missed on the pool deck. I can’t help but wonder if his decision to retire was related to the emergence of transgender athletes in women’s sports.

Best of luck and enjoy retirement!

Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

Why now? Among other things, 70 is the age for max Social Security benefits in retirement. Smart move.

Bobbi & Mike Stege
5 months ago

Jack is a wonderful coach and a very special, kind, caring, outstanding person. UGA and all the swimmers there over the years have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to be coached by him.

5 months ago

Jack BauerLEFT on good terms, so amazing coach with many awesome goals achieved??? Wish him well go Dogs! definitely

5 months ago

It’s nice to see recognition and praise in the comments section for a man so deserving. Having had the privilege to swim for Jack for four years, I’d echo a lot of what others have said.

One thing I’ll always remember is his incredible deck presence. If you’re walking into practice tired or unmotivated, he’d get you feeling like you could run through a brick wall. If you’re nervous before a race, go talk to Jack and he’d know exactly what to say to boost your confidence. His innate ability to do these types of things is remarkable; one of the many signs of a true living legend.

Couldn’t be happier for Jack and for the way he has… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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