CHICAGO – Former USA Swimming National Team Coordinator and U.S. Paralympics National Team Manager and Coach Jimi Flowers was honored today as the 2009 Disability Swimming Coach of the Year at the Aquatic Sports Convention in Chicago. Flowers is receiving the award following his passing in early July of this year.
The purpose of the award is to recognize significant contributions by a coach to the inclusion of swimmers with a disability in USA Swimming programs or in the sport of swimming. This year, the award will be presented for the first time at the annual Aquatic Sports Convention and will be renamed in Flowers’ honor as the James Raymond “Jimi” Flowers Coach of the Year Award.
“We hope that naming the award in Jimi’s honor will help to inspire other coaches to follow his example of inclusion of swimmers with physical disabilities in the sport of swimming,” said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming’s Executive Director. “The impact that Jimi had on our sport was felt by many and we know that his legacy will continue to live on for years to come.”
Flowers, 47, died on July 10th following a tragic climbing accident on Capitol Peak near Aspen, Colo. He was an avid swimmer throughout his life, having competed at the University of Tulane all four years of college. He was a four-time conference champion in the 200m breast. Flowers competed in three NCAA Championships, and in his senior year, he was named Athlete of the Year for the entire University. Flowers also competed at two U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in both 1980 and 1984.
After college, Flowers worked as an assistant coach for Auburn University from 1984 to 1989. He left Auburn for a position as a coordinator in USA Swimming’s National Team Division through 1993. Flowers returned to Auburn in 1995 as a swimming assistant coach where he remained through 1999. In 1999, Flowers returned to Colorado Springs to the U.S. Olympic Committee, where he managed the USOC Aquatics Center until 2007. In addition, Flowers also assisted with aquatics operations at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, airport operations at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games, and he also handled logistics and airport operations at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In 2007, Flowers began working for U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, as National Team Manager and Resident Program Coach for the Paralympic swimming program. In 2009, Flowers was promoted to Associate Director of High Performance for the Paralympic swimming program and also served as head coach of the national team.