USA Swimming Announces 8 Assistant Coaches For Tokyo Olympics

by Robert Gibbs 177

June 20th, 2021 National, News, Tokyo 2020

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

USA Swimming has officially named the 8 coaches who will be Team’s USA assistants for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. They’ll be working with women’s head coach Greg Meehan, men’s head coach Dave Durden, and head open water coach Catherine Kase.

This is a departure from the last several Olympics, where only 6 assistants were officially named to the roster. Even with the expanded coaching roster, there were a few surprises, including the fact that the Sandpipers of Nevada head coach Ron Aitken wasn’t named to the roster, despite the Sandpipers’ women’s impressive showing in the distance free, as Erica Sullivan (1500 free), Bella Sims (4×200 free relay), and Katie Grimes (800) all qualified for the team. Additionally Bowen Becker doesn’t train with Sandpipers, but did as an age grouper and currently represents the club as a paid pro, as does Blake Pieroni. Both Becker and Pieroni qualified in the men’s 4×100 free.

 

– Aitken and the Sandpipers are operating the best women’s distance group in the country, and none of them have even begun their college careers yet. Sims and Grimes both are bumping elbows with names like “Ledecky” in the all-time 15-16 rankings, and Sullivan, who has twice deferred the start of her college career, realized her full potential this week. Not to be overlooked – this is one of the youngest Olympic teams that we’ve had in a long time. In 2016, Katie Ledecky, at 19, was the youngest swimmer on the team. This year, there are many pre-collegiate swimmers on the team. While experienced collegiate coaches like Greg Meehan and Dave Durden and others on the staff could surely pivot and work with age groupers, their current coaching style is attuned to the needs of 18-30 year olds. Athletes who have been in college, who have raced in international meets, who are dealing with more adult issues. Having a coach on deck who is working with age groupers day-in and day-out will be a huge asset for a young squad. Becker doesn’t train with Sandpipers, but did as an age grouper and currently represents the club as a paid pro.

There’s no set criteria for how Team USA selects the assistant coaches, but generally, the slots seem to go to coaches who put several swimmers on the team, or those whose swimmers have the best shots at taking home medals. It’s also worth noting that in some cases, it is possible that coaches may have been offered a slot on the team, but turned it down for one reason or another, although we have been told that this was not the case for Aitken, as he was not asked to be a coach.

Braden Keith contributed to this report.

Bob Bowman, Arizona State

  • Hali Flickinger – 400 IM, 200 fly
  • Allison Schmitt – 200 free

Bowman’s no stranger to the USA coaching rankings, having been on staff at the last four Olympics, but will be his first Olympic coaching assignment without Michael Phelps as one of the US swimmers. This time around, he’s coached a pair of post-grad women, Hali Flickinger and Allison Schmitt, to the team. But it’ll bet a familiar event lineup for Bowman, as Flickinger qualified in the 400 IM and 200 fly, and Schmitt in the 200 free, all events in which Phelps made the Olympic team multiple times.

Todd Desorbo, University of Virginia

  • Paige Madden – 400 free, 4×200 free relay 
  • Alex Walsh – 200 IM
  • Kate Douglass – 200 IM
  • Catie DeLoof – 4×100 free relay

After leading the Virginia women to their first-ever NCAA title last season, Desorbo’s Cavaliers were on-fire at the Olympic Trials as well. Madden, for example, won 3 NCAA titles. Walsh came to Virginia as a National Teamer already, but didn’t show any signs of slowing down in her first season in Charlottesville. Douglass came to the Cavaliers with sprint accolades, but blossomed into one of the most versatile swimmers in the country in her 2 seasons under Desorbo. We knew the Cavaliers were talented, but this group has done very well translating short course into long course. DeLoof joined Cavalier Aquatics last summer as one of just a handful of post-grads training who have trained at UVA under DeSorbo, and she’ll head to Tokyo as a member of the 4×100 free relay team after finishing 5th in the 100 free. 

Ray Looze, Indiana

  • Lilly King – 100 breast, 200 breast
  • Annie Lazor – 200 breast
  • Zach Apple – 100 free, 4×100 free relay, 4×200 free relay
  • Michel Brinegar – 800 free, 1500 free
  • Blake Pieroni – 4×100 free relay

Looze has been a fixture on US teams over the last few years, and it’s no surprise to see him here after putting two women and two men on the team, all-post grads. Annie Lazor and Lilly King went 1-2 in the 200 breast, and King won the 100 breast, the event in which she’s the world-record holder. Zach Apple and Blake Pieroni have been the backbone of the US free relays since Rio, and Pieroni will make his 2nd-straight Olympic team in the 4×100 free, while Apple will get an individual swim after finishing 2nd in the 100 free. Michael Brinegar represented Mission Viejo and apparently has been training with them, but he swims for Indiana collegiately

Terri McKeever – California

  • Abbey Weitzeil – 50 free, 100 free
  • Katie McLaughlin – 4×200 free relay

McKeever has been another fixture in the US coaching ranks, having served as the women’s head coach in 2012 and on numerous other international teams before and after then.  Abbey Weitzeil won the 100 free for the 2nd-straight Trials and missed winning the 50 free again by a mere 0.01s, while Katie McLaughlin made the team in the 4×200, an event in which she’s been a familiar face over the last 6 years.

Peter Andrew, Michael Andrew Swim Academy

  • Michael Andrew – 100 breast, 200 IM, 50 free

This was the one that everyone was talking about all season. It would have been almost-unprecedented to leave the coach of an athlete who qualifies in 3 individual events off the American Olympic staff. But at the same time, we know that Peter Andrew, while he has done an incredible job of tinkering and tweaking the USRPT methodology with his son Michael, has the least experience of those on the staff in working with a diverse group of athletes, something that Olympic coaches are often called on to do. But, Peter is the coach of a swimmer who is now authentically an American star. He’s a guy that’s easy to get along with. And, frankly, more-and-more coaches are doing things that resemble USRPT, so Peter will have plenty of athletes to work with in his wheelhouse.

Jack Bauerle, University of Georgia / Athens Bulldogs

  •  Chase Kalisz – 200 IM, 400 IM
  • Jay Litherland – 400 IM
  • Andrew Wilson – 100 Breast, 200 Breast
  • Nic Fink – 200 Breast 
  • Olivia Smoliga – 4×100 free relay
  • Natalie Hinds – 4×100 free relay

The Georgia post-grad group had a stellar meet, as six swimmers qualified for the Olympic Team. The four men come through in a very specialized set of events – Kalisz and Litherland in the IMs, plus Nic Fink and Andrew Wilson in the breaststrokes. Smoliga and Hinds qualified for the women’s 4×100 free relay after 3rd and 4th place finishes in the 100 free. Additionally, Georgia alums Allison Schmitt, Hali Flickinger and Gunnar Bentz made the team, although all currently train elsewhere. Bauerle brings a wealth of experience to the staff, and over the last 20 years has also proven to be one of America’s best women’s freestyle coaches as well. Bauerle has been on U.S. Olympic Team staffs in 2000 (women’s assistant), 2016 (men’s assistant), and 2008 (women’s head coach).

Anthony Nesty, Florida

  • Kieran Smith – 200 free, 400 free
  • Bobby Finke – 800 free, 1500 free

The Gator long course tradition hasn’t missed a beat under Nesty since Gregg Troy retired from coaching at the University of Florida to focus on post-grads.  Smith and Finke are both American record holders in yards who’ve also been able to get it done in the big pool, as between the two of them they swept the longer four freestyle events.

Gregg Troy, Gator Swim Club

  • Caeleb Dressel – 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly

Like Peter Andrew, Troy only has one athlete on the team, but again, it’s someone who has qualified in 3 events, and that’s Caeleb Dressel. Besides coaching one of the biggest stars in the world of swimming, Troy brings plenty of experience to the table, having previously served on three U.S. Olympic teams and was the men’s head coach in 2012.

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Coach
1 month ago

All well deserved. Congratulations!

Creepy Neighbor
1 month ago

Congrats to the awesome coaches for getting their swimmers this far, and now onto Tokyo. Best of luck to all of Team USA.

Coms
1 month ago

Pretty disrespectful to bring coaches who had one swimmer. Especially when you have a club coach who got 3 swimmers on the team.

Swim nerd
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

Although I definitely agree that Ron Aitken should be on the coaching staff, saying that it is disrespectful to bring peter Andrew and Gregg troy is just wrong. MA has a better shot at medaling than any of the sandpiper swimmers which means it would make sense to have his coach be on there. Dressel is the best swimmer on the planet, you can’t not have his coach be on the team.

Coach
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

I’m surprised that club coaches aren’t lobbying for Mike Parratto. Regan alone has 3 swims (maybe 4 depending on the mixed medley relay), and Regan is a medal contender. I’m curious about the thought process.

2Fat4Speed
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Mike Parratto also has experience of international coaching staffs. He was Jenny Thompson’s coach back in the day.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

He also blew her taper and didn’t convince her to conserve energy in early rounds. A pretty big whiff.

Coach
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

If we are keeping people off the Olympic staff for blowing tapers, are you sure we want to start with Parratto?

Unknown Swimmer
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Why is the coach the only one to blame for a “blown taper”? There’s so much more going on at that meet that could’ve impacted the swim – seems like we’re giving coaches a ton of credit/blame here….

Coms
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

I’d hope these adult swimmers are capable of going to meets without having there coaches there all the time. Tapered race plans don’t change all that much for older swimmers and there’s a thing called a cell phone. I’d like to see a coach who clearly could have a long successful future in the sport get to go.

Toocool4you
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

Oh good now MA has someone who knows how to take his splits

ACC fan
Reply to  Toocool4you
1 month ago

Really?! What an ugly comment. Peter Andrew is probably the most science based coach and stroke technician on the staff. If you can’t see that from MAs performance you are not that “cool”.

Last edited 1 month ago by ACC fan
Perspective
Reply to  ACC fan
1 month ago

You had me til stroke technician. Go to the SWimSwam archives and realize when MA learned a pull out🤓

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  ACC fan
1 month ago

It’s actually a factual comment. PA starts MA’s splits when MA’s feet leave the wall. At Pan Pacs camp, PA had to train Wyatt on how to take MA’s splits correctly so they would be consistent with his prior training

Toocool4you
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Glad someone else remembered that.

jim
Reply to  ACC fan
1 month ago

The ‘Bryson DeChambeau’ of the swimming world??

Xman
Reply to  ACC fan
1 month ago

Peter Andrew is not scientific. What he is doing is taking proven training techniques but underused and hyper focusing on them ignoring all other fundamentals. For example training basic fundamental l stroke mechanics.

And his (and Michaels) explanations for a lot of things are out of science fiction.

Now that being said he found a way to train Michael for speed at a young age and it’s clear what they are doing through some trial and error is working. But it doesn’t mean what they did was based in anything scientific.

Dave Salon was a scientific coach who’s research is what they are copying a summary of.

Last edited 1 month ago by Xman
swimapologist
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

You should spend some time reviewing the scientific method that you were taught in the 5th grade.

“Trial and error” as you put it is science. In fact, it’s the foundation of science and the scientific method.

Timothy Mccamish
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

Sandpiper swimmers will pull 2 medals I’ll bet on that and that isn’t including the relay. MA coach is for one swimmer. Sorry but nobody else does that style. Idk. Aitken got robbed on this one.

WahooSwimFan
Reply to  Timothy Mccamish
1 month ago

Aitken will undoubtedly get a future chance. from age of his swimmers, appears they will be a presence for years.

Coach
Reply to  WahooSwimFan
1 month ago

I understand the argument about selecting based on medal potential, but I hate the “will get a future chance” argument. In this sport, there is NO guarantee.

jim
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

Agree – Gregg Troy has more talent in his little finger than 99.999% of the USA Swim Coaches around the country. Plus, Dressel doesn’t just count for his individuals, he’ll be on the 400 medley relay, 400 free relay, 400 coed Free/Medley relay (are they doing both or just one of them?!?) and very well could be on the 800 free relay (although I don’t think so). And let’s not forget Gregg Troy just ‘retired’ recently – he’s coaching Dressel (and would’ve been Lochte) through this olympics and may call it a career. And when you talk about how this team of swimmers is ‘lacking’ a little bit in international experience, it’s more than making up for it with the… Read more »

isopropyl
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

MA and CD will each bring home more medals than those 3 club swimmers will combined (plus some). A tough call but when the ultimate goal is to bring home medals, I think they made the right one.

Sarcastic
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

It’s political. They aren’t gonna deny the two guys with the most medal potential of their coaches, even if there was a coach with more athletes. Especially a club coach.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

When I first saw this article alarm bells went off in my head. Seems like a crime that the SAND coach didn’t get on

Last edited 1 month ago by SCCOACH
Timothy Mccamish
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

Fact.

iceman
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

Especially when these three swimmers have little or no experience from such big meets, they need their coach with them.

Coach
Reply to  iceman
1 month ago

Erica has tons of international/ Team USA experience. Don’t ignore her resume.

iceman
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

It’s mostly in open water though. Otherwise, it’s just Pan Pacs and then junior worlds. I don’t think it can be compared to the Olympics.

Last edited 1 month ago by iceman
Coachy
Reply to  Coms
1 month ago

They should have left Meehan home

(Now to sit back and have some popcorn)

Qqq
Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

Hopefully he won’t burn them all out in only 5 weeks…

SwimFan NU
1 month ago

Wish the coach of sandpipers would have gotten the nod. They have some serious talent going to tokyo

Riccardo
1 month ago

Ron Aitken not making it is pretty disheartening for club coaches everywhere. What else can a club coach do? He put 3 women on the team!

Last edited 1 month ago by Riccardo
Jojorab
Reply to  Riccardo
1 month ago

become a D1 swimming coach? sadly

Riccardo
Reply to  Riccardo
1 month ago

Latching onto my own comment.

I know they always do it this way with medal potential etc., but the message it sends to coaches is that you’re more likely to get rewarded for having a one in a billion athlete walk through the door than you are for developing an incredibly elite group and having 3 world class athletes make the team.

Last edited 1 month ago by Riccardo
sven
Reply to  Riccardo
1 month ago

Yes, that’s how it works.

Joel Lin
Reply to  sven
1 month ago

That is EXACTLY the way it works. It’d be a shame if club coached now feel the need to go solicit the high tier post grad swimmers to the neglect of their development focus at their clubs – or even in their NCAA programs. Bowman broke the mold when he had UM & also had Wolverine Inc. running in 2008. It wasn’t the UM program that spoke for his credentials – it was 100% the pro group. It wasn’t an anomaly. It became the norm. Now it’s the game.

YeahBaby
Reply to  Riccardo
1 month ago

The reward of a club coach is to develop swimmers. And I get it, it would be nice to go but the Peter Andrew type of coach needs to be there to take care of one swimmer who not only has the ability to win a medal in all 3 individual events, but also helps all the relays (including the mix relays) win medals… great job Sandpipers!

Coach M
Reply to  Riccardo
1 month ago

Agreed 100%

Swimfan27
1 month ago

No Ron Aitken?!

swammer2009
1 month ago

Congratulations to all of these coaches & their families!! Coaching is often a selfless job. This is some well deserved recognition.

I also think there needs to be some set criteria moving forward on which coaches are selected.

Last edited 1 month ago by swammer2009
Xman
1 month ago

Congrats to coach Andrew – I hope this is might kick off a cool training group for MA 🙂

Also the Sandpipers coach got the shaft – I dont know why they picked Bob over him.

Coach
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

Really? Bob is the one who is the least deserving of that group?

Xman
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Yes

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

No

Coachy
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 month ago

So who is?

Xman
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

For the women he has 3 events total – and well you can’t leave out McKeever since they need a women coach.

Coach
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

Bob has 5 events total (200 fly, 400 IM, 200 free, 800 free relay, 400 free relay).
Teri has 5-6 (50 free, 100 free, 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 400 medley relay, possibly 400 mixed MR).

Joel Lin
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

The politest way to address your point is a question: if Hali Flickinger had chosen another pro group – say Sergio Lopez at VaTech – would the outcome be different? It’s a fair question. Flickinger was world class, was a prior Olympian under Bauerle. I’m curious about the reaction of the board to the point that seeking attribution to your Olympic coach resume by was by way of emphasizing the procurement of pros in your training pool isn’t just athlete development. To the contrary, Sandpipers is strictly athlete development & they are objectively great at it.

Daaaave
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

Hali dropped 5 seconds in her 400 IM while training with Bowman and made the Olympics in an event she did not even contest at the 2016 Trials. Hard to say Bob just got lucky with that one.

Of course she developed her critical elite years with Jack – but if that takes away from Bob, then by that logic Bob should get “credit” for Chase.

Ghost
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

And he texts inappropriately to his swimmers late at night on national team meets!?!? Should that not be considered?

swimcoach24
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

based on those texts alone that came to light.. he should not be able to be named to any National Team trips in the future.

Joy
Reply to  swimcoach24
1 month ago

There are a lot of coaches who still do this with a lot of swimmers at the junior national level and below. Until USAS and the Center take it seriously, no one will. And, if all it takes is for a Mom to say the texts are no big deal,l then it will continue to happen.

So, yes, based on Bob’s resume and a large cohort of coaches who still inappropriately engage with their swimmers, by all means USAS should keep him on the team.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joy
swimcoach24
Reply to  Joy
1 month ago

https://swimswam.com/arizona-republic-obtains-publishes-full-bowman-burckle-text-messages/

Not sure if “theres a large cohort of coaches” who communicate like this with current or past swimmers – but it doesn’t change my viewpoint that these actions should not be associated with any of our national team coaches – let alone Olympic Coaches!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Actually Bob was one of the very few coaches who navigated the pandemic and had his older stars perform lights out.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

That’s way off point. The point is USA Swimming does need a better algorithm. It’d be an objectively terrible thing if NCAA coaches begin to further skew their focus toward pro groups figuring that is how you get selected to be an Olympic team coach. That’s the current attribution analysis in the selection criteria, so can you blame them if so? Meanwhile the coaches at top clubs like Sandpipers, TAC & Bluefish continue to churn out young world class swimmers. There’s no reward now for doing that exceptionally well.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

What are you talking about? They get put on staff for other international teams – PanAMs, PanPacs, Worlds — as has always been the case. You don’t go from zero to Olympic team assistant unless you have one of the multi-event stars.

Forked.
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

At the cost of the ASU program getting shelved so he could play Olympics. He didn’t balance it at Michigan and he used covid on this one. Seniors never getting their pac10’s and ncaa’s. For what? So this guy could play olympics.

Dawg Talk
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Methinks Jack might somewhat disagree with your statement.

SwimFan NU
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

I woulda picked the sandpipers coach over McKeever but that’s my personal opinion

Xman
Reply to  SwimFan NU
1 month ago

Well yes… but you know they need a coach who is a women.

Coach
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

Case was already on the coaching staff.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Xman
1 month ago

And who has a resume the Sandpipes’ coach could only dream of.