LEXINGTON, Kentucky, May 28. LARS Jorgensen will replace Gary Conelly as the head coach for the University of Kentucky swimming and diving programs. Conelly retired in April after 22 years leading the Wildcats.
Conelly hired Jorgensen as an associate head coach prior to the 2012-13 season, using the time to serve as a transition period while Conelly looked to leave his program in capable hands.
“We are excited that Lars has become our head coach and for the enthusiasm he has for the University of Kentucky,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “During his year here, he has been impressive as associate head coach and as a recruiter and we believe he'll do an outstanding job in his new role. With his success as head coach at Toledo, as an assistant at LSU and as a student-athlete, assistant coach and interim head coach at Tennessee, Lars has the ability, experience and desire to succeed at Kentucky.”
“It's a dream of mine to be the head coach at the University of Kentucky,” said Jorgensen. “I know we can be very successful here. We have a lot of work to do, but this past year we laid the foundation for future success as we have a really good recruiting class coming in. I think we're going to have a lot better team next year and in the years to come.”
Jorgensen represented the United States in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and has six USA National Championship titles to his name.
He competed for the University of Tennessee in the early 1990s, during which time he set the current UT record in the 1000-freestyle, tapping in at 9:05.38 in 1992. In addition, Jorgensen holds the Ironman Triathlon record for fastest swimming time in competition history.
Jorgensen plans to continue to use much of what he learned from Conelly and his 22 years of coaching experience while heading the Wildcats.
“Gary was wonderful this past year,” said Jorgensen. “I believe in a lot of the same things that Gary taught. It was really nice because I got to know the athletes for a year, so it's an easier step. But it's a different role and we have to be accountable in all areas of our program, and my responsibility as a head coach is that our coaches are working hard, our athletes are working hard, and that we're moving the program forward.”
Before coming to Kentucky last season, the San Diego, Calif., native and former UT product served as the interim head coach at Tennessee for the 2011-12 season. During his stint with the Volunteers, Tennessee had a top-12 finish nationally and a third place finish at the SEC Championships while posting a 6-2 (2-1 SEC) record during his first season as an assistant in 2010. He helped coach 12 All-America honorees and they broke three school records during his time there.
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