Washington State Hires Russell Whitaker As New Head Swim Coach

Washington State has found its new head coach to lead the program into the Mountain West Conference next season. Russell Whitaker has spent the last seven seasons as Washington State’s Director of Operations and last season added assistant coach duties to his workload.

“We couldn’t be happier to name Russ Whitaker the new women’s swimming head coach at Washington State University!,” said McCoy. “Russ has been an incredibly important part of the success our team has had over the past seven seasons. Since joining WSU in fall 2017, he has worked with every aspect of WSU’s swim program, in addition to being involved with the sport locally and nationally through USA Swimming. With Russ’ unbridled enthusiasm, his commitment to student-athlete success in and out of the pool, and the respect he’s earned from everyone around him including current and former student-athletes, the future of Cougar Swimming is bright.”

Whitaker also is the head coach of the WSU-affiliated Cougar Aquatics and has served as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair for the Inland Empire LSC for the last five years.

Whitaker is a 2017 graduate of the University of Wyoming where he received a Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Teaching. He then received a Master of Athletic Administration from Ohio University remotely while working in Pullman.

With the promotion, Whitaker becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Division I swimming.

He was hired as the Director of Operations in December, 2017, midway through the first year of former head coach Matt Leach‘s tenure leading the Cougars. Leach was announced as the new head coach of the women’s program at Iowa State in May.

The Washington State portion of Whitaker’s resume overlaps, then, with Leach’s and provides continuity to the program. Sophomore Emily Lundgren finished 2nd at Pac-12s in the 100 breast (59.45) and 3rd in the 200 breast (2:07.44). She went on to finish 14th in the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships after losing a swim-off for 8th place at the NCAA Championship meet in March.

That made Lundgren the program’s first All-American since 2007.

Hungarian-born Dori Hathazi also qualified for the NCAA Championships, placing 36th in the 200 fly.

Whitaker’s Cougar Aquatics program has produced athletes who have qualified for local championships, Senior & Age Group Zones, Sectionals, Futures, Winter & Summer Junior Nationals, TYR Pro Swim Series, Winter National Qualifiers and U.S. Olympic Trials. Cougar Aquatics has also produced four Scholar All-Americans and one swimmer selected to attend the prestigious 2022 National Select Camp.

Among the best current members of the team are 2025 Tennessee commit Ben Madson, who is the defending Washington High School 2A (small school) State Champion in both the 100 back and 50 free; 2024 USC commit William Miller, the Washington 2A State Champion in the 100 free; and 2025 Tennessee commit Jake McCoy, the Washington 2A State Champion in the 200 IM.

Washington State was the lone swimming school to be left in the Pac-12 after the major conference realignment this past offseason. The Washington State women’s swimming program has since joined the Mountain West conference for the next two seasons but there is still some uncertainty with the Pac-12 break up.

Washington State does not currently sponsor a diving program.


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27 days ago

Wish you all the best

27 days ago

This is a huge hire for WSU! The future of the program is so bright

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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