By Riley Missel//USA Swimming Communications Intern | Monday, February 6, 2017
Six months ago this week, 45 Team USA swimmers took to the Olympic Games pool deck in Rio. An overwhelming wave of Americans washed over the podium throughout the week, earing 33 medals, 16 of them gold. But behind these impressive numbers and athletes are their diligent and inspiring coaches. USA Swimming looks back at a few of the coaches from Rio –the 2016 Golden Goggle Awards nominees for Coach of the Year –and their contributions to the Games:
Bob Bowman was the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Men’s Head Coach and is currently the head coach at Arizona State University. He attributes much of the success of his athletes to their preparation for anything –and everything –that could happen.
“I feel like we were without question the best prepared team in Rio,” Bowman said. “This is a tribute to our athletes and their willingness to embrace the challenges we faced and ultimately meet them. We had a great plan for each of these issues and our readiness showed in our results.”
Due to this attention to detail throughout the entire process of training and preparing for the Games, Bowman’s athletes – Conor Dwyer, Chase Kalisz, Michael Phelps, Cierra Runge and Allison Schmitt – won more medals than any other coach’s squad on the Olympic roster.
“There was amazing training during the camps due to the impeccable preparedness of the staff and the focus of our athletes,” Bowman said.
Collectively, they took home 12 medals awarded to Team USA. Dwyer, Kalisz and Phelps were individual medalists at the Games, with Phelps taking gold in the men’s 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley. This was Bowman’s fourth time on an Olympic staff, and his first as head coach.
Dave Durden was an assistant men’s coach for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. He coached five members of the Team USA men’s roster in Rio – Nathan Adrian, Ryan Murphy, Jacob Pebley, Josh Prenot and Tom Shields. This group combined earned nine medals, including four by Adrian and three from Murphy, who also set a world record in the 100m backstroke at the Games. Adrian, Murphy and Prenot were each individual medalists. For his excellent leadership on the path to the Olympics this year, Durden was honored as the ASCA Coach of the Year, as the individual whose coaching effective has contributed most toward American swimming excellence on the international level. On the collegiate front, Durden guided the Golden Bears to a runner-up finish at the men’s 2016 NCAA Championships. Durden is currently men’s head coach at Cal, where he guided the Golden Bears to a runner-up finish at the men’s 2016 NCAA Championships. This was his first experience on an Olympic coaching staff.
Bruce Gemmell, an assistant women’s coach at the 2016 Olympic Games, again guided Katie Ledecky to unprecedented accomplishments last year. The Nation’s Capital Swim Club coach earned his first assignment on an Olympic staff. In Rio, Ledecky became one of just four American women across all sports to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games, and joined Debbie Meyer (1968) as the only women to win the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle at the same Games. Ledecky added a pair of relay medals and eclipsed her own world records with swims of 3:56.46 in the 400m free and 8:04.79 in the 800m free in Rio.
Ray Looze coached three swimmers – all eventual medalists in Rio – to spots on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Lilly King, Cody Miller and Blake Pieroni combined for five Olympic medals, with King and Miller each earning individual podium appearances in their respective 100m breaststroke events. An assistant women’s coach for Team USA in Rio and the Indiana University head coach, Looze also guided the Hoosiers to top-10 finishes at both the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships in 2016. Additionally, Looze was honored as the Big Ten Swimming Coach of the Year on both the men’s and women’s side in 2016.
David Marsh, women’s head coach for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, coached six SwimMAC Carolina athletes to berths on the Rio roster – Cammile Adams, Kathleen Baker, Anthony Ervin, Jimmy Feigen, Ryan Lochte and Katie Meili. This group earned eight combined medals, with Baker, Ervin and Meili all earning trips to the Olympic podium in individual events. At age 35, Ervin was the gold medalist in the men’s 50m freestyle. This was Marsh’s fourth time on an Olympic staff, and his first as head coach. The current CEO and Director of Coaching of SwimMAC Carolina has led the program to three consecutive USA Club Excellence Championships to date.
Greg Meehan’s swimmers made quite an impact on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team with Maya DiRado, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal combining to earn nine medals in Rio. DiRado and Manuel were breakout stars, winning four medals each at the Games, five of them in individual events. Manuel claimed gold in the 100m freestyle and silver in the 50m free, while DiRado earned gold in the 200m backstroke, silver in the 400m individual medley and bronze in the 200m IM. A women’s assistant coach for Team USA, Meehan also coached the Stanford women to a runner-up finish at the 2016 NCAA Championships.