USA Swimming announced Tuesday that it has hired legendary coach Jon Urbanchek to a newly created national team “technical advisor” role.
Urbanchek, 81, has many times retired, only to return to the sport. He was the men’s head coach at the University of Michigan from 1982-2004, but since retiring from that role, he stayed connected to the program through positions with its club team and aquatics program at large. In 2010 he moved into a directorial role with Fullerton Aquatics’ post-grad group.
He has served on seven Olympic team staffs: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Urbanchek has also worked alongside other elite coached including Mike Bottom, Dave Salo, and Bob Bowman, and in 2017 received the IOC Coaches Lifetime Achievement award.
“This is the final chapter,” Urbanchek told Yahoo Sports, who originally broke the news Monday. “I retired from college coaching [at Michigan] in 2004, but I never retired from USA Swimming. I soak up all the energy from young coaches and young swimmers and give it back to them. My message is very simple: Keep it moving.”
“USA Swimming has been a part of my life for a very long time and I’m excited to be able to continue to contribute in this new way,” Urbanchek told USA Swimming. “The best part of USA Swimming is that we’re all working for the same goal, day in day out, and it’s a great group of really dedicated people leading the charge. With Tokyo on the horizon, I’m joining a great team at an exciting time.”
Urbanachek will bring extensive coaching experience into the upper levels of the organization, which hired Major League Soccer executive Tim Hinchey as its president and CEO just under a year ago. Under Hinchey, Olympian Lindsay Mintenko was promoted to national team managing director, but she also lacks swim coaching experience (she is the first non-coach to hold the position).
Per the USA Swimming press release, Urbanchek will work with Mintenko to “provide vision and leadership for America’s top coaches and elite athletes, with the focus on performance.” He will still be based out of California.
“Jon’s knowledge is unparalleled,” Mintenko told Yahoo. “He’s relatable, he’s respected, and he brings a sense of humor, which is fantastic.”
It’s unclear at this point exactly what Urbanchek will be doing on a daily basis, but he will undoubtedly play a role in setting Team USA up for the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships next month, as well as the 2018 Pan-Pacific Championships in August, which will be a key meet to set up the United States’ presence on the world stage in 2019.