BERKELEY, California, October 3. OLYMPIC gold medalist Katie Ledecky not only had to deal with her club Nation's Capital Swim Club undergoing an incredible amount of change due to an investigation into Rick Curl and his subsequent life ban from USA Swimming this summer, now she's looking for a new personal coach. Yuri Suguiyama has now been hired as an assistant coach with the California men's swimming team.
“It's an honor to join the Cal men's swimming program with an opportunity to contribute to the championship culture Dave Durden has created in Berkeley,” said Suguiyama. “I'm excited to begin working with the student-athletes and becoming a member of this great university and its local communities. I want to thank all the families and colleagues who have helped me in my career and made it a very rewarding six years in the D.C. area.”
Suguiyama, a coach of the Nation's Capital Swim Club out of Damascus, Maryland for the past six years, has become renowned around the world for his work with Ledecky, who won the 800-meter freestyle at both the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and the London Games. In the past year, Ledecky has also broken the National Age Group record in the 400-meter free, as well as four National Age Group records in yards swimming.
“Though I am very disappointed and sad that Yuri is leaving the NCAP program, I recognize that it has been a dream of his to coach at the collegiate level and I understand that the opportunity to work with the defending NCAA championship program at Cal with an outstanding head coach in Dave Durden was just too great an opportunity for him to pass up at this time,” Ledecky said. “I owe Yuri an incredible amount of gratitude. Yuri is a tremendous coach and an even better person, and my teammates, family and I wish him the very best and hope that he achieves all of the goals he has set for himself in his coaching career.”
Ledecky is not Suguiyama's only impressive swimmer. His swim group has broken 19 Potomac Valley Records, rank nationally at the top of 12 different events, and are on the top 100 lists all-time for 19 different events. Suguiyama was a member of the USA coaching staff for the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii and was a nominee for the 2012 Coach of the Year Award by the American Swim Coaches Association as well.
“Although I am saddened that Yuri will be leaving NCAP as a full-time coach, he will always be with us as a member of our family, a former club swimmer, and a fellow coach,” NCAP CEO Tom Ugast said. “All of our coaches wish Yuri the very best in his new role, and look forward to following his accomplishments at Cal. Yuri will always be welcome back on our pool deck. I will particularly miss his desire to push the coaching staff to its upper limits on what we can accomplish with our swimmers. His dedication to this team and his athletes were very special and we are eternally grateful for what he has done.”
Besides coaching the Nation's Capital Swim Club, where Suguiyama was also a standout competitor, he competed collegiately at the University of North Carolina where he was a first-team NCAA All-American selection as a senior and was named All-ACC for three years. Suguiyama was selected as co-captain his senior year and completed his Tar Heel career holding the school records in the 1000 and 1650-yard freestyles.
During his college career, Suguiyama, 30, was named second-team District Three At-Large Academic All-America by the College Sports Information Directors of America while earning degrees in both political science and economics in 2004.
“We approached this opportunity looking for ways to enhance and improve our program,” said Durden, commenting on the hiring of Suguiyama to replace former associate head coach Greg Meehan, who was named head women's swimming coach at Stanford in late August.” As we moved through the month of September, it became more and more evident that Yuri is the coach to help us do just that. I have watched Yuri's career over the last six years. His intellect, his organization, and the culture he promotes within his environment are the very aspects we value within our Cal swimming family. We happily welcome him to the pool deck, and I look forward to working side by side with such a great coach and great person.”
Special thanks to California and NCAP for contributing to this report.