UNC Adds Kirk Grand to Staff As Assistant Coach

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels announced yesterday that Kirk Grand would be joining the staff as an assistant coach for the 2021-2022 season. Grand has plenty of experience at other big-name programs, including Indiana and Auburn, but most recently he’s been in Denver, working with SwimLabs Denver and the Denver Swim Academy.

After graduating from Ohio State in 2010, Grand earned his master’s degree from the Counsilmen Center while also coaching at Bloomington South High School, where he was named Indiana High School State Coach of the Year and National High School Federation Sectional Coach of the Year in 2012. From there, Grand was a volunteer assistant at Auburn from 2013-2016, during which time he earned his PhD in Psychophysiology, then then was a paid assistant at Auburn from 2016-2018. Grand served as assistant coach at Indiana from 2018-2019 before moving to Colorado.

While UNC didn’t explicitly mention whom Grand would be replacing, long-time assistant coach Christy Garth no longer appears on the team’s list of coaches. Garth had been on staff with the Tar Heels since 2008, but her connection with the school goes back even further, as she was a team captain and a member of the Tar Heels’ ACC championship teams during the mid-90s.

Last season, which was the second under head coach Mark Gangloff, the UNC women finished 8th at ACCs after having to use a reduced rater due to Covid protocols, but rebounded to finish 12th at NCAAs, while the men’s team finished 6th at ACCs and 24th at NCAAs.

Release Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics 

CHAPEL HILL – Dr. Kirk Grand has been named an assistant coach for the North Carolina swimming and diving programs, head coach Mark Gangloff announced Friday. Grand comes to Chapel Hill after two years with SwimLabs Denver and a year with Denver Swim Academy, and previous stops at Indiana University and Auburn University.

Kirk Grand approaches swimming as the art and science that it is,” said Gangloff. “Kirk has worked with and learned from some of the best coaches and scientific minds in our sport and he brings these experiences to the Carolina program. I’m confident he will make an immediate impact on the Carolina program with a specific focus on the sprint group. Kirk is a true student of the sport and I can’t wait to work alongside him.

“Carolina swimming and diving has come a long way in a short period of time, but we have our sights set on bigger goals. Kirk will help us reach these new heights. The future is bright at Carolina. It’s a great day to be a Tar Heel.”

“I’m tremendously grateful to Mark Gangloff and the administration for affording me the opportunity to coach at the University of North Carolina,” added Grand. “UNC is a world class institution that offers an amazing combination of academic and athletic excellence. I’m excited to work with a fantastic staff and serve an incredible team as they pursue their dreams in the pool and out. Go Heels!

“I’m thankful for everyone at Denver Swim Academy and Swimlabs Denver for the never ending support, hard work, and love. I’ve learned so much, it’s truly been an amazing journey. I’m sure I will see you along the trail.”

Grand had two stints in Bloomington, on his first tenure he was a head senior group coach for the Counsilman Center Swim team while he was pursing his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology and Human Performance from the Counsilman Center for the Science of swimming.  Concurrently, from 2011-13 he was the head men’s high school swim coach at Bloomington South High School, winning Indiana High School State Coach of the Year and National High School Federation Sectional Coach of the Year honors in 2012.

During his more recent stint at Indiana, he served as an assistant coach, and for the first time in program history, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won Big Ten team titles simultaneously in 2018-19. Furthermore, the Hoosier men finished third at the NCAA Championships, winning four National Titles, with the women placing ninth overall behind Lilly King who became the first woman in NCAA history to win eight breaststroke titles, completing her four-year sweep of the 100 and 200 breaststroke events.

Dr. Grand returned to Bloomington from Auburn University, where he served as an assistant coach for two seasons and a volunteer assistant coach for another three. At Auburn, Dr. Grand coached 19 All-America swimmers and multiple-time SEC and NCAA finalists, and served as a USA Swimming National Team coach in 2018.

At Auburn, Grand led and designed practices for the sprint group. One of those sprinters, Zach Apple, won the SEC title in the 50 freestyle and also won gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay at the 2017 World Championships. Fellow Auburn swimmer Peter Holoda took bronze in the same event for Hungary. On the women’s side, Auburn won the SEC 400 freestyle relay championship in 2018.

Grand, who specialized in psychophysiology while earning his PhD from Auburn, performed research on autonomy based learning, taught classes, and assisted with the day-to-day functions of the Auburn swimming and diving program. He presented evidence-based research to the team and lead mindfulness, self-talk, physiology and performance anxiety information sessions.

Grand graduated from Ohio State University in 2010 after being a member of the Miami (Ohio) University swim team from 2006-2008.

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Hot Take
2 years ago

Kirk is the best coach I have ever had. He will do great things at UNC. Happy for him

2 years ago

So much for academics….

Gregg Troy 2024🇺🇸🇺🇸
2 years ago

Lmao kristy Garth been gone

2 years ago

Should be mentioned the Tar Heel women finished 12th at NCAAs this year! Huge improvement from previous years.

Chico Rego
2 years ago

About time to have one of my best friends back on deck! Welcome to the ACC, brother!

2 years ago

Congratulations Dr. Kirk! This is a great hire for UNC.

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