Tennessee Aquatics in Knoxville, Tennessee has announced the hiring of Gardner Howland as its new head coach. Howland comes to the program from the Kansas City Blazers, where he spent the last 9 seasons as head coach, which included achieving Level 4 in the USA Swimming Club Recognition Program – the highest recognition possible on a rating of “strong, stable, financially sound and athletically productive organizations.”
Tennessee Aquatics, a Level 2 program on that scale, is based out of the Allan Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee. In addition to a full age group program, the club also serves as the representation in USA Swimming competition for most University of Tennessee swimmers.
“Tennessee has a well-established and productive swimming culture, and a great swimming history,” Howland said. “The resources are excellent, and the prospect of working and learning in the proximity of other swimming professionals and a program like UT’s is very exciting. Coach Matt Kredich and his staff have put together a phenomenal program; they are forward-thinking and cutting edge in their methods of achieving swimming speed, they have an unparalleled team culture, and they take a “whole person” approach to developing swimmers.”
Howland had a previous stop with the program as the head coach for 14 years with the Knoxville-based Pilot Aquatic Club. That club would merge with Tennessee Aquatics in 2013 to become what is now known as Tennessee Aquatics. A former University of Tennessee swimmer, Howland was a 5-time Southeastern Swimming LSC Coach of the Year from 1997 through 2001 before resigning his position in 2008. At the time, the Pilot Aquatic Club was a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club – making it one of the 16 most elite clubs competitively in the United States.
“The people of Knoxville are wonderful, and I have a lot of established relationships and friendships there,” Howland continued. “I am very much looking forward to pursuing competitive swimming excellence in the cooperative and collegial environment of the Southeastern LSC and the southeastern part of the country among the great coaches and teams there.”
“Gardner Howland is one of the finest coaches in the country,” University of Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich said. “Over several decades, Gardner has proven to be an innovator, a great developer of swimmers and coaches, and a leader in our sport. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Gardner for his entire coaching career and have had the honor of coaching many of his student-swimmers, each of whom has come to my college program extremely well prepared. Gardner has a reputation of providing the swimmers on his team with a wealth of physical and mental skills that have proven to lead to sustained success in the pool and beyond. We are so fortunate to be able to welcome Gardner back to the Knoxville community.”
Howland is an inductee in the Tennessee Swimming Hall of Fame and was a 7-time YMCA National Champion as an athlete. Among the athletes he coached in his first round with the club were Olympic gold medalist Julia Stowers and future NCAA butterfly champion Davis Tarwater.
Howland went on to coach at Conejo Simi Aquatics in California for 2 years before taking over the Blazers.
“The move made sense for my career- I believe we will have great success at Tennessee Aquatics,” Howland said of the decision. “More importantly the move is good for my family and our lifestyle. East Tenessee is a beautiful place! I am grateful for the opportunity to have led the Blazers, and I will miss being a part of the Kansas City community, a cool and fast-rising Midwestern city. I will certainly miss the athletes at the Kansas City Blazers, and I wish them every success in their future.”
Howland takes over the program from Lary Hough, who spent 2 years as the program’s head coach after taking over from his former boss Marshall Goldman. Goldman left the position in 2017 to become the aquatics director for the University of Tennessee, who resigned to take over as the Aquatics Director for the University of Tennessee. The KC Blazers now list George Adcock as the head coach of the program’s National Team, the role formerly held by Howland.