Wisconsin To Name Cal Assistant Yuri Suguiyama New Head Coach

The first major coaching domino in what should be an eventful 2018 offseason has fallen: Wisconsin is expected to name Cal associate head coach Yuri Suguiyama as the new head of the Badger swim & dive program, sources tell SwimSwam.

Suguiyama has been a name frequently mentioned in connection with head coaching openings the past few years. He’s been an assistant on staff with the California men for the past six seasons, helping the Bears win a national title in 2014 and earning runner-up finishes in each of his other five seasons, including this past year.

He’s perhaps best-known, though for his work pre-Cal – Suguiyama got his start coaching at Nation’s Capital Swim Club, where his top student was a young distance swimmer named Katie LedeckySuguiyama coached Ledecky onto the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 when Ledecky was just 15 years old, and the teen sensation went on to win Olympic gold, her first in a star-studded career.

Suguiyama was at Nation’s Capital for six years, followed by six at Cal. In that time, he’s been a part of Team USA coaching staffs for the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, the 2015 World University Games and the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Wisconsin’s press release says Suguiyama was “named special assistant to the national team director for Team USA” in Rio). He was also the head coach of Team USA at the 2016 Short Course World Championships.

Suguiyama primarily worked with distance and middle-distance swimmers at Cal, and that’s also where Ledecky excelled under Suguiyama.

Update: Cal head coach Dave Durden passed along official comment on Suguiyama’s departure from the program:

“I spoke with our athletes this morning about this wonderful opportunity for both Yuri and Abby as he continues his advancement in the professional coaching circles,” Durden says. “Yuri has done a fantastic job with our program over the last six seasons, and has made a lasting impact in our athletes’ career both athletically and personally.  I am excited for both Yuri and Abby as this is both rewarding and challenging as he leaves our environment to head to the University of Wisconsin!”

Suguiyama will take over a Wisconsin program that was 17th on the women’s side at NCAAs last year, 5th in the Big Ten for women and 6th in the Big Ten for men. The Badgers have exciting rising junior Beata Nelsona home-grown prospect who won Big Ten titles in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes and was an NCAA finalist in both backstrokes and the 200 IM this past season.

This should be a particularly interesting offseason for coaching hires. Wisconsin was one of the bigger program openings along with Auburn, and now the Badger job is off the table and Suguiyama off the potential candidates list. Other Division I programs with openings are Virginia Tech, Northwestern, TCU, Holy Cross, Delaware, Georgia Southern and Stony Brook.

 

Quotes from Wisconsin’s press release confirming the hire:

“We’re excited to bring Yuri to Madison,” UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “His track record as a coach speaks for itself, but he will also bring great energy to our program. His passion for the sport and the athletes he’s coaching will only make us better.”

“I am both excited and humbled to join the University of Wisconsin as the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs,” Suguiyama said. “It has been a dream of mine to lead a program, and there’s no better place to do so than at a school that has so much to offer, like Wisconsin.

“I want to thank Coach Alvarez and senior associate athletic director Marija Pientka for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to building upon the program’s tradition by getting to know our current team, putting together an awesome staff and recruiting student-athletes of high character who are good fits for Wisconsin both academically and athletically. I can’t wait to get started.”

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Mike Murray
4 years ago

THE FIVE THINGS I LEARNED READING SWIMSWAM’S COMMENTS SECTION: (This should really be a blog, but ah what the heck, I’ll just post).

Preface: I love swimswam. Whenever I talk to my father, almost every time, he says “Don’t forget to read the front page of the New York Times, its important,” swimswam is our profession’s version of the Times, or maybe its more like our Wall Street Journal; whatever the case might be, it’s perennially paired with my morning coffee.

I was thrilled to learn that Yuri Suguiyama was hired as the Head Coach for The University of Wisconsin. I believe that Wisconsin has made a wonderful investment in their swimming & diving program. I would encourage ALL coaches… Read more »

Guy
Reply to  Mike Murray
4 years ago

On point 1- How is attempting to set the record straight considered jealousy? You claim that is the motive for people and you have NO IDEA who they are or why they would even have that motive. He just literally not listed anywhere as an official staff member. That’s all. it isn’t a jealousy thing, and if it is listed somewhere then just point it out. Again, just because you want the ACTUAL truth written doesn’t mean you are jealous of anyone. Also, maybe he was on staff. I do not have an opinion either way. But assuming someone wants the truth printed means they are jealous isn’t fair.

Bob swim
Reply to  Guy
4 years ago

There is no such thing as the ACTUAL truth. Just the truth. If you are looking for some type of truth that has a qualifier… then you aren’t looking for the truth.

Swimmy
4 years ago

Many of you are arguing over whether Yuri “made Katie L great”. I am not sure whether this was a major factor in the Wisconsin hiring committee’s decision. Being a head coach is a huge undertaking – you need technical acumen, a business sense, the ability to lead and advance, detail oriented mindset to comply with all that comes with the NCAA, etc as well as superior interpersonal skills. Much of our sport is and always has been mental. Maybe the people at Wisconsin responsible for his hiring believe he has all that and the ability to lead. Some Swimmers like Missy in her prime or Katie probably teach their coaches more than their coaches can offer technically. Maybe he… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  Swimmy
4 years ago

^ Yes

Anonymous
4 years ago

We watched Yuri coach Katie for many years and are tickled red and black about our incoming freshman’s new coach.

HEELFAN1
4 years ago

Tyler Fenwick can save UNC

Oolala
Reply to  HEELFAN1
4 years ago

Sexiest coach in the NCAA ❤️#teamfenwick

Oldswimfan
Reply to  Oolala
4 years ago

If that’s sexy, I don’t want to be sexy

PowerTower
Reply to  HEELFAN1
4 years ago

We also feel when Jake from Liberty shakes his Power Tower, people get real crazy. You have to admit the guy sells books

swim
4 years ago

Yuri was tired of getting second.

#STATEment
4 years ago

Sad day for UNC. He was their only chance for a successful rebuild.

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  #STATEment
4 years ago

If UNC ever parts ways with their current staff, I’m sure they will be able to bring in a great new staff. Just because individual isn’t going to be the head coach at UNC doesn’t mean they won’t be able to find someone else that will do a great job.

han
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
4 years ago

I’m not sure why everyone thinks Yuri is out at UNC by taking the Wisc job? The UNC job will likely open in the next few years and he will still presumably apply?

Hmmm...
Reply to  #STATEment
4 years ago

#DeSelmed

Pvdh
4 years ago

Yuri seems to get a lot of hype for being around great swimmers with other coaches.

SwimGeek
Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

He’s only had two jobs. Yes, he’s on a college staff with other coaches. He came to notoriety initially for bringing a very great swimmer to prominence. By himself.

GoSwim
Reply to  SwimGeek
4 years ago

Yeah but Missy Franklin’s coach developed ONE swimmer too…. sometimes, you just hit the jackpot. So hopefully he has more on his resume than one swimmer. Time will tell.

Guy
Reply to  GoSwim
4 years ago

Todd had 4 former girls in the A final on the 200 free at NCAA’s. I guess if you don’t have multiple world record holders and only 1 then you’re just lucky.

Guy
Reply to  GoSwim
4 years ago

Caroline Piehl, Jordan Mattern. Kelly Naze…… Yeah, guess he only developed the ONE athlete….. Jordan won a gold medal at the 2013 World Champs, again, an American record must not be good enough to qualify as a good swimmer in GOSWIM’s eyes

SwimSwum
Reply to  GoSwim
4 years ago

Yuri also had Carsten Vissering at NCAP, ICYMI.

Guy
Reply to  GoSwim
4 years ago

It’s concerning how many people will “like” a comment even when it’s completely untrue….

tammy touchpad error
Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

Let’s ignore that Murph, Pebs, Prenot, Shields have been in with Yuri every day since 2013 or earlier…. How about Nick Norman’s 20+ second drop in the mile? Got Grieshop to swim fast again… Look down to the other side of the pool, freshman don’t always do that (Hoff).

Brutus
4 years ago

Twill be interesting to see how Yuri does in the snow-ice-sleet land.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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