Dave Durden (L) and Greg Meehan (R) have been selected as the head coaches of the 2020 U.S. Olympic swimming teams.
The reigns of Team USA’s most successful sport from 2016 are being entrusted to two of the NCAA’s most successful coaches.
Stanford’s Greg Meehan will coach the U.S. women while Cal’s Dave Durden will coach the U.S. men at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, USA Swimming announced on Monday. They’ll lead a U.S. swimming team that won 16 gold medals and 33 total medals at the Rio Games, both of which led Team USA in any sport.
Both Meehan and Durden were members of the respective U.S. coaching staffs in 2016, when David Marsh led the U.S. women and Bob Bowman led the men. A four-person committee unanimously nominated each coach. This comes after this duo coached the U.S. men and women at the 2017 world championships to 38 medals, the most one nation has ever won in a single world championship.
Meehan is a three-time NCAA Coach of the Year and led the Cardinal to national titles in 2017 and 2018. Among the athletes he’s coached at Stanford are 2016 Olympic gold medalists Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Maya DiRado.
“We’re joining a list of coaching legends and it’s not lost on either one us,” Meehan said. “It was a moment that sort of allowed for some self-reflection and appreciate this great honor of my professional career. … As that self-reflection and appreciation happened I got really excited about the future.
“I’m looking forward to working with Dave and Team USA and all the coaches and athletes around the country as we prepare for Omaha and the first step toward success in 2020.”
Durden has produced 24 individual NCAA champs and 13 relay champs while at Cal, and the 2016 U.S. Olympic team featured six current or former Cal swimmers, including gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, Ryan Murphy and Tom Shields.
“Throughout this process I was able to look back at the coaching legends that have been in this position and I’m incredibly humbled by that list,” Durden said. “Some tremendous coaching legends in our sport have been in this position. I’m excited for this and extremely humbled.”
With superstars such as Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky front and center, the United States won 13 gold medals, more than the total number of Australia’s medals, which ranked second in the overall tally with 10.
Taking over such a program can be a daunting task, but it’s one both coaches are happy to accept.
“There’s a lot of responsibility to continue that tradition of excellence,” Durden said. “I think it’s a pressure, if you want to use that word, that we share among the great coaching community in the U.S.”
Part of their preparations to take over as coaches, they said, has been reaching out to former Olympic coaches and those who came before them to seek advice. That’s something they’ll continue to do as they continue the process of preparing for 2020. Meehan said other preparations are underway as well as they work with national team managing director Lindsay Mintenko.
“We’re fine-tuning things and planning our calendar for camps, etc.,” Meehan said. “Then we’re getting out and about, traveling a little more to meets to have the opportunity to have connections with coaches and watch the athletes race and learn a little more.”