PHOENIX, Arizona, December 14. THE Phoenix Swim Club Thursday evening accepted the resignation of head coach Coley Stickels and is bringing Matt Rankin back to the team to lead the senior group.
The board of directors announced Rankin's appointment this afternoon in an email to the team, stating that Rankin will be working in an interim role. An email sent earlier this week to the Phoenix Swim Club Masters team mentioned that Rankin will start working there Monday.
The news comes about a week after the team was informed that Brophy Preparatory School was selling the historic pool facility, forcing the team to find other options before the grounds are demolished next fall. One of those options, according to the board, is training at the pool Brophy is building on its campus about four miles west of the current facility.
Stickels was hired by Phoenix Swim Club in July 2011, bringing with him years of success as a coach at Lake Oswego Swim Club. Olympic champion Roland Schoeman joined Stickels' senior group at Phoenix Swim Club last fall, and would eventually swim in the championship final of the 50 freestyle at the 2012 Olympics, placing sixth.
Stickels coached three high school-age swimmers at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and guided Phoenix Swim Club to a top-20 finish at this month's junior nationals. Stickels' own competitive history included several national team roster appearances in the 50 freestyle and a top-16 finish in that event at the 2000 Olympic Trials.
Rankin previously worked at Phoenix Swim Club as Masters and age group coach before moving to the YMCA Westside Silverfins in the western Phoenix suburb of Goodyear in 2006. While coaching at the Silverfins, he guided numerous swimmers to Arizona high school state titles. Tyler Messerschmidt, now a sophomore at UC-Berkeley with an NCAA title under his belt, was one of Rankin's prot?g?s. Messerschmidt was one of four Silverfins swimmers to compete at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Rankin's history in the pool is equally impressive, with three Olympic Trials appearances in 1984, 1988 and 1992. In 1988, he missed the Olympic team by six tenths in both the 200 fly and 400 IM, and made the final of the 400 IM in 1984 and 1992.
Rankin's hire makes him the fourth head coach of Phoenix Swim Club in 18 months. After the team's board of directors terminated Dave Gibson's employment in the spring of 2011, Brian Hoffer guided the team in an interim role through that summer before Stickels was hired.
The deck of the Phoenix Swim Club will be a family affair, with Matt Rankin joining his twin brother Mark, who is the head Masters coach, and Mark's wife, Maureen, who coaches the beginning-level swimmers.
The board also announced today that Matt Rankin will be officially introduced at a special town hall meeting Thursday. At that meeting, the board will also give updates on the search for a new training facility.
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