Celebrating the Life of Former USA Swimming President Jim Wood

Celebrating the Life of Former USA Swimming President Jim Wood

By USA Swimming  | Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Former USA Swimming President Jim Wood was memorialized today in New Jersey. A few of the Berkeley Aquatic Club Founder's accomplishments are listed in this piece which was first posted on January 5th. 

Former USA Swimming President Jim Wood passed away Friday, Jan. 4. He was 68. 

USA Swimming Board of Directors Chair Bob Vincent shared a widely felt sentiment on the passing: “Jim Wood was a true professional and always respectfully represented the most important constituents in our sport - our athletes.” 

A member of the USA Swimming Board of Directors for almost three decades, Wood served the organization in various capacities, including President from 2006 to 2010. He was the first active swimming coach to be elected to this position. 

He was also a part of the USA Swimming delegation to the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games; International Operations Committee Coordinator from 1992-2004; Time Standards Committee Chairman; Steering Committee Chairman; New Jersey Swimming General Chair; a member of the USA Swimming Foundation Board of Directors; and President of United States Aquatic Sports. USA Swimming honored him with the USA Swimming Award in 2003. 

“Jim Wood was one of the first people to reach out and welcome me to USA Swimming and offer his guidance,” said USA Swimming President & CEO Tim Hinchey III. “I met with him during my first few months, and gratefully listened to the wisdom and insight he offered. It was easy to see how important his voice was for the sport. We had many engaging discussions and I understood early on that he was driven to do what he felt was best for USA Swimming and I respected that dearly. We will miss his leadership but his legacy will be with us forever.”

Wood began his career as a coach at the New Providence (N.J.) Community Pool in 1970. He attended college at Johns Hopkins, where he was assistant coach from 1971-72. Upon graduating from Johns Hopkins, Wood attended grad school at the University of North Carolina, where he was assistant men’s coach from 1972-74. He was the head men’s coach at UNC from 1975-1977.

In 1977, he founded the Berkeley Aquatic Club in Berkeley Heights, N.J., where he coached until his passing on Jan. 4. According to a BAC website, “at least 30” of his swimmers have held first-place national rankings and have raced 38 times at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In addition, BAC swimmers have represented the U.S. and medaled at every major international competition, including the FINA World Championships and Olympic Games.

More than 50 BAC swimmers have earned High School All-American Honors and more than 20 have earned NCAA All-American Honors. Wood was inducted into the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011. 

Having known and worked with him for over two decades, USA Swimming Chief Operating Officer Mike Unger added: “Jim was the consummate coach and volunteer in our sport. As a coach, he wanted the best for his swimmers and challenged them to do everything they could to strive for excellence. As a volunteer, he always had the best interest of the sport in mind and helped make the Board of Directors and the National Team more successful.”


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