COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, December 8. GREGG Troy and Teri McKeever were named head coaches of the USA men's and women's Olympic teams, respectively, today in a press conference held by USA Swimming.
USA Swimming Executive director Chuck Wielgus and Interim National Team Managing Director Jim Wood made the announcement, ending months of speculation over who would lead the American team to the London Olympics. Troy and McKeever were notified of their selection on Tuesday.
Both coaches led the U.S. team to a total of 51 medals at this summer's Pan Pacific championships. McKeever's appointment marks the first time a female coach has been at the helm of an American Olympic swimming team. It is believed to be the first time a female coach has led any Olympic swimming team in the world.
"It's an incredible honor," McKeever said. "I hope someday that a female on an Olympic staff isn't as noteworthy as it is now."
McKeever made history in 2004 when she was named as assistant Olympic coach for the women's team, the first for an American female at the time. She was an assistant coach again at the 2008 Games. McKeever's most prominent swimmer has been Natalie Coughlin, who helped give McKeever's program at Cal-Berkeley more credibility while a student-athlete there from 2000 to 2004 and won 11 medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. McKeever also coached Staciana Stitts to an Olympic berth (and gold medal in the 400 medley relay) in 2000 and Haley Cope to a silver medal in 2004. Since then, McKeever's Bears won the 2009 NCAA national championship, and such swimmers as Dana Vollmer and Caitlin Leverenz have shone on the international scene.
Today's announcement marks Troy's third appointment to the U.S. Olympic coaching staff, but his first as head coach. He was the women's assistant coach in 1996 and the men's assistant coach in 2008. In a coaching career spanning more than 30 years, Troy has guided five U.S. swimmers to medals at the Olympics: Greg Burgess (1992, silver in 200 IM), Ashley Whitney and Trina Jackson (1996, gold in 800 free relay), Caroline Burckle (2008, bronze in 800 free relay) and Ryan Lochte (2004, gold in 800 free relay and silver in 200 IM; 2008, gold in 800 free relay and 200 back, bronze in 200 and 400 IM). He is also now the coach of 2008 Olympian Elizabeth Beisel. Troy has coached nearly 70 international athletes to spots on other countries' Olympic rosters.
"It's certainly a tremendous honor," Troy said. "I'm not going to take it lightly and I look forward to the opportunity. We'd like to exceed or do better than ever before. But we know it's more competitive around the world."
The selection of the Olympic coaches was begun by an independent panel who reviewed the accomplishments of the applicants. The panel recommended McKeever and Troy, Wood said, and his staff at USA Swimming approved the selection.
The jobs of Olympic coaches weren't the only open positions in USA Swimming. The organization is conducting a search for a new national team director in the wake of Mark Schubert's termination last month. Wielgus said the process of finding Schubert's replacement "had absolutely no impact" in selecting Troy and McKeever.
Though the Olympic Games are about 18 months away, Troy and McKeever said they will have plenty of work to do in their new roles. Though they stressed that their first priority is to their primary athletes, they said they will be in contact with coaches of veteran swimmers and rising stars who could find themselves on the Olympic team.
"I see my main goal and responsibility is to continue to be the best possible deck coach I can be and not only inspire my athletes," McKeever said, "but look at the men and women who have proven themselves at the Olympic level and those aspiring to that, and put the best possible team together."