UCLA Brings Tracy Slusser In as “Temporary Assistant” During Head Coach’s Maternity Leave

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 4

February 21st, 2024 News

UCLA has hired Tracy Slusser as a temporary assistant swimming coach for the remainder of the 2023-2024 season. She will step in as the program’s head coach Jordan Wolfrum is set to take maternity leave for the birth of her first child.

Associate Head Coach Karissa Kruszewisk will serve as acting head coach while Slusser will back-fill the assistant role on a temporary basis.

“Bringing Tracy on deck for our championship meets while I am unable to travel gives my team two incredibly important things,” Wolfrum said. “First, they get another coach on deck with experience and passion who will support them in our biggest moments this season. Secondly, they get to see what women supporting women in our sport looks like. They get to see love, friendship, and family and how it only elevates the elite sporting experience at the highest levels. Our team also gets to see that one day, if they choose, they too can be a mom and a leader in their chosen field.”

Slusser, who was an associate head coach at Stanford through last season, is one of the most-decorated assistant coaches in the country to have never served as a head coach.

Slusser graduated from Purdue in 2006, where she was a three-time CSCAA All-Academic honoree and the first Purdue swimmer to go sub-23 in the 50 yard freestyle.

Her first coaching job was at Texas A&M, where the program scored five top-10 finishes, including a 4th-place finish in 2008. There, she helped coach the program’s first two NCAA individual champions Julia Wilkinson and Alia Atkinson in 2009.

She then moved to Arizona, where she helped the program to a 5th-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships in the season after Frank Busch left the program to take over as the USA Swimming National Team Director.

Slusser arrived at Stanford in fall of 2012 and after two years was promoted to associate head coach. The Cardinal finished 8th in Slusser’s first season and would eventually win three-straight NCAA Championships in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

In her tenur on The Farm, Slusser has helped mentor five Pac-12 Swimmers of the Year, six Pac-12 Newcomers of the Year, which the Cardinal has also captured 18 relay national championships and 28 individual national championships. Stanford has won the Pac-12 six times (2013, 2017-2020, 2022) and has never finished lower than second at the conference meet with Slusser on staff.

In the summer prior to Stanford’s 2017 national championship season, Slusser worked with three Stanford Olympians — Lia Neal, Simone Manuel and Maya DiRado — who combined to win nine Olympic medals (four gold) at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero.

She also helped recruit and coach Katie Ledecky.

Slusser was six month pregnant when she began coaching at Stanford, and now has two children, so she is familiar with the experience of coaching at the highest level while pregnant and as a mother.

“Bringing Tracy on deck for our championship meets while I am unable to travel gives my team two incredibly important things,” Wolfrum said. “First, they get another coach on deck with experience and passion who will support them in our biggest moments this season. Secondly, they get to see what women supporting women in our sport looks like. They get to see love, friendship, and family and how it only elevates the elite sporting experience at the highest levels. Our team also gets to see that one day, if they choose, they too can be a mom and a leader in their chosen field.”

“Although short-term, I am very honored and excited to step into this role as an assistant coach for the UCLA swim team during the championship season,” Slusser said. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jordan, as both a colleague and close friend. She has built a very qualified and talented team and staff, and it will be a fun few weeks being able to work with them. As part of a ‘higher-level’ aspect of this temporary coaching opportunity, I am hopeful that this can serve as a model and template for coaching in all collegiate sports when very important parts of life happen outside of the sport and time away is needed, whether it be for maternity, paternity, or medical leave.”

“For 10 years, I’ve had an incredible friendship with Tracy, during which we have frequently shared ideas and debated how to be and support better coaches in our sport,” Wolfrum said. “Tracy and I share a particular passion for elevating women coaches in the sport of swimming and diving, a sport in which there are far too few. When I learned I was pregnant, I immediately called Tracy, and we got to work on building a plan that would support my needs as a new mom, as well as my passion for and commitment to this amazing team.”

The UCLA swimming and diving team is next in action at the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Washington, February 28 to March 2. That will be the last Pac-12 Championship meet for UCLA and likely the last Pac-12 Championship meet as we currently know it.

The UCLA women finished 5th at the 2023 Pac-12 Championships.

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Kathy Walker
1 month ago

Tracy and Jordan are supremely talented coaches. This is a great decision. Congrats Jordan and Tracy

Diehard
1 month ago

Does Tracy live in LA area?

Virginia Coach
1 month ago

Worked with Tracy one summer in Arizona. FANTASTIC HIRE.

Green roads
1 month ago

Bruins finished 4th last year

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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