USA Swimming High Performance Manager Russell Mark Leaving Organization

USA Swimming High Performance Manager Russell Mark is leaving the organization after 19 years, a source confirmed to SwimSwam on Friday.

Mark, who primarily worked with the U.S. National Team in perfecting technique through data analysis, has been with USA Swimming since 2002, with his most recent title of High Performance Manager being held since 2010.

“The most important thing is that USA Swimming’s National Team staff remains committed to providing world-class support to its National Team athletes,” USA Swimming told SwimSwam. “Every effort will be made to ensure that the change in staff members does not disrupt day-to-day operations.”

USA Swimming added that the National Team division will continue to grow as they add talented and experienced individuals to the High Performance team.

SwimSwam was unable to contact Mark.

Mark has been at the cutting edge of evolving swimming through video and data analytics throughout his career in the sport, aiding USA Swimming’s best in optimizing performance at the highest level.

A swimmer at the University of Virginia, Mark graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering and went on to pursue a career in the field, working in Pratt & Whitney’s experimental military jet engine programs from 2001 to 2002.

He then switched gears and pursued an internship at USA Swimming, and has been with the organization ever since, serving as the Biomechanics Coordinator/Manager up until 2008 when he became the National Team Performance Support Director.

Mark’s official title switched to National Team High Performance Consultant in September 2010, conducting biomechanical and statistical analysis on all things swimming while providing feedback to National Team coaches and athletes.

Mark routinely traveled around the country doing checks on U.S. National and Junior National members, and has accompanied USA Swimming at every major international meet over the past several years.

During his competitive swimming career, Mark was a part of three UVA ACC championship titles from 1999 until 2001, with the Cavs ultimately winning five more in a row following his graduation.

This is the second relatively high profile member of USA Swimming’s staff to leave the organization over the last month and a half. At the beginning of October, it was announced that Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mike Unger was leaving the organization after 28 years to take a new role FINA.

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Not Guerra, But I Like Him.
7 months ago

Give me a break. After Tokyo someone had to take a hit. No doubt our national team coaches had a say in this but somoene was gong to take the fall, just sucks that it had to be Russ because he was the one who didn’t see himself as above everyone else and actually took the time to talk with the rest of us. So who should it have been? Not sure we need a full time person to do Open Water. If you get rid of LM and you get accused of sexism. Not sure what Barbiny does, but someone had to go and it was Russ.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving ahead. Australia uses AWS… Read more »

sven
7 months ago

Russell Mark’s job is my dream. His job sits exactly at the intersection of everything I’ve been doing for the past 10 years: coaching, biomechanics, and fluid mechanics. His breakdowns and analyses are fantastic and this seems like a big loss for the national team.

All that said, I wouldn’t go anywhere near USA Swimming right now and he will be better off outside of the organization.

Comments are Closed
Reply to  sven
7 months ago

In this video from 2020, he starts talking about his job and at about 15:00 he gets into biomechanics and analytics:

https://www.sloansportsconference.com/event/usa-swimming-the-analytics-driving-olympic-performance

Last edited 7 months ago by Comments are Closed
Aquajosh
7 months ago

I wouldn’t be surprised to see China or Singapore offer him a much better salary to do the same thing.

Troyy
Reply to  Aquajosh
7 months ago

That’d be hilarious.

Thescienceguy
7 months ago

Russell was recruited out of Pratt & Whitney in the early 2000’s and grew into a huge plus for USA Swimming and the National Team. With his departure it leaves USA Swimming with absolutely no one who has any credible link to the science side of the sport. What astounds me as a science-based coach, is how little USA Swimming puts into the Sports Science side of the business, and with this last move have pretty much said that they have zero interest in supporting their coaches and athletes in that area. It would be one thing if the coaches in this country were highly educated in the science side of athlete development, but they’re not. That makes it even… Read more »

Troyy
Reply to  Thescienceguy
7 months ago

USA Swimming has survived up to this point because of our superior numbers in the system

That’s gonna make some people here unhappy.

Gus
7 months ago

Sheer nonsense is taking place in Colorado Springs! We as coaches, and swim community deserve so much better. We need to get more of our own on that BOD, and oust the leadership.

Coach
Reply to  Gus
7 months ago

BINGO. This all starts with the board, and they refuse to hold the CEO accountable. Good luck to Ira and Clark- they need it.

Don Providence
Reply to  Coach
7 months ago

USA Swimming attracts nothing but the best! Has someone ever asked how Ira Klein single-handedly almost bankrupted Sarasota Y? No wonder USA swimming is in shambles.

Guerra
7 months ago

I don’t like Hinchey, but changes needed to be made after the scandal, corruption and excess under the former Executive Director and national disgrace, Chuck Wielgus, and his cronies. There were staff at USA Swimming “educating” coaches and consulting clubs that weren’t qualified to coach 8-unders. They were making 75k+ salaries with full medical, dental and retirement benefits. Russell is a good man, he was an asset and will land on his feet. With all these cuts, are membership fees going to be lowered? I doubt it!

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Guerra
7 months ago

Lol, land on his feet. Most aerospace engineering companies were offering entry level positions at 75k 15+ years ago.

I guarantee with his education and experience, Mark will be compensated far greater than what he was getting paid at USA swimming.

Guerra
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
7 months ago

I agree. I intended to put “land on his feet” in quotes because I was making a joke out of it. Russell is way too brilliant to work for USA Swimming. What he did for the sport was a labor of love.

NM Coach
Reply to  Guerra
7 months ago

Guerra – my HOOSIER buddy!

I would by interested in knowing who you considered unworthy of educating/consulting coaches & clubs?

If we had 10 people making 75K + benefits, they would be able to reach more coaches and more clubs…and that would still be less than what the top people are currently making.

Just my .02

Taa
7 months ago

I don’t really know if this is a good or bad thing. My impression is that most of the employees there are overpaid for the work they do which is typical of any quasi govt job. I’m more interested in the overall health of the organization and if they have made any headway to bring the numbers back to prepandemic levels. It would be nice to get some specifics as to what is going on there.

ReneDescartes
Reply to  Taa
7 months ago

Russell deserves everything he gets. He took a job at USA Swimming for peanuts when he could have easily have done something that paid way more (aerospace engineering, duh).

Taa
Reply to  ReneDescartes
7 months ago

you can’t possibly make that determination without knowing what he is getting paid. I understand he has some technical skills that are difficult to replace but he is still pretty limited in salary as he is just a technical stroke coach. Secondly, just because he can earn a huge salary doing a difficult job(engineering) doesn’t mean that if he decides to do something else they need to pay him the same salary. It doesn’t work that way. He chose the job and if he is flipping burgers he gets paid to flip burgers and not paid the salary of an aerospace engineer.

ReneDescartes
Reply to  Taa
7 months ago

I know how much he started at because it’s been talked about on podcasts. You can go listen for yourself on the Brett Hawke podcast with Russell. Maybe you should talk to some national team members to determine his value. Sounds like you don’t know much but seem to know how much he should be compensated.

Swimdude133
7 months ago

I don’t have any specific information except I’ve heard he was let go for an undisclosed reason. I’m sure someone else has ears closer to the source and I’d like to hear what Russell has to say as everything I’ve ever heard about him has been positive. That being said, lots of people have skeletons in their closets…

Former Big10
Reply to  Swimdude133
7 months ago

Thanks for adding an unprecedented layer to this riveting story.

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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