Updated with USA Swimming press release
FULLERTON, California, August 17. IN an exclusive conversation with Swimming World, KING's Sean Hutchison revealed that he would be heading to Fullerton, Calif., to open a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Post-Graduate Center as part of the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST).
Hutchison will not be taking over head coaching duties at FAST, as he will be focusing on coaching a high performance area of the team.
"When I was asked by Mark Schubert to go to Fullerton and run a USOC sponsored site, I was honored," Hutchison told Swimming World. "As difficult as it will be to not be on the ground at KING, it was something big enough for me to look ahead to. Fullerton will be a little different from Bob [Bowman] at North Baltimore and Dave [Marsh] at SwimMAC-Carolina. I am just coaching the elite swimmers, which will be my main focus."
Hutchison, however, will not be completely leaving KING Aquatics in Washington as he will take on a similar role as Dave Salo still plays as the general manager for Irvine Novaquatics while still coaching the University of Southern California and the Trojan Swim Club.
"I'm retaining my position as managing director of KING and my pool company in Seattle," Hutchison told Swimming World about his multiple hats. "That was part of what I had to have in my terms to make a move to Fullerton. I wasn't going to move to just become a head coach of a new team. I want to make sure that KING continues to improve and get better. There are things that we are working on at KING that I can help improve from afar."
One of the first questions obviously on the table is who will join Hutchison in Fullerton. Hutchison answered a few of those questions in our conversation, and hinted at some future news.
Hutchison confirmed that Jon Urbanchek is slated to move from Michigan, at some point, and help in a coaching capacity at FAST. Meanwhile, Ariana Kukors and Margaret Hoelzer will be leaving KING to head south with Hutchison to FAST.
Other elite-level swimmers are currently talking with Hutchison about joining the USOC center. Hutchison, however, told Swimming World that it would be unfair to each of the swimmers to confirm anything until a final decision is made. Hutchison assured us that Swimming World would be informed as soon as more swimmers join Fullerton.
We can report that the potential list of swimmers in talks with FAST could be special, and includes some top notch male swimmers as well as women for Hutchison to coach. Hutchison has made his most recent mark on the sport coaching the likes of Kukors, Hoelzer and Megan Jendrick – all women.
"Good question. Early on in my career, I was always the guys coach," Hutchison said when asked whether he felt comfortable about coaching men as well as women. "The last few years it has flip-flopped for me. You just get lucky with the athletes you get to a degree. I think it is more just the people I have in the pool right now at KING. Also, it is historically easier to build a men's team around a strong University program. When we were building at KING, a lot of the good guys in Washington would leave the area and not come back."
The USOC post-graduate center concept, previously known as the Centers of Excellence, has drawn criticism from some corners of the U.S. swimming community regarding its funding sources. Originally funded by USA Swimming, the renamed USOC Post-Grad Centers, come under the funding budget of the USOC. Hutchison did not mince words regarding these issues in his conversation with Swimming World.
"To some people, I know this is not the most popular move," Hutchison said regarding the controversial nature of the USOC post-graduate centers. "No one is perfect in their career, but I've tried to make a career of doing the right thing and not making enemies. I feel strongly enough about the positives of this move that I am willing to take the criticism coming from it."
Additionally, questions have been brought up regarding international swimmers being allowed to train at such a center.
"My general feeling is that I won't encourage it," Hutchison said about training international swimmers at FAST. "We have enough universities training our competition in the U.S."
USA Swimming later confirmed the move with the following press release:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In an effort to increase the training opportunities for elite post-graduate swimmers, the U.S. Olympic Committee has tapped two existing USA Swimming Clubs as "U.S. Olympic Committee Professional and Post Grad Training Centers." North Baltimore (Md.) Aquatic Club and Fullerton (Calif.) Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) become the second and third clubs to join the program. SwimMAC in Charlotte, N.C., was the first to receive the designation, in 2006.
The USOC will provide financial and other support in order to transform the clubs into comprehensive, state-of-the-art training and support environments for elite teams of prospective Olympic swimmers. Along with top coaches, these Centers will provide athletes with access to performance training, travel required for training and competition, educational opportunities, internships and/or part-time jobs, physical therapy and medical support.
"The USOC is proud designate two elite training centers with the distinction and support they deserve to carry on their rich tradition of preparing elite-level swimmers," said Mike English, USOC Chief of Sport Performance. "We feel that this designation and affiliation with the USOC will provide a welcome home for current and future members of Team USA as they train to make their Olympic dreams a reality."
North Baltimore Aquatic Club is under the direction of two-time Olympic Coach Bob Bowman and trains Olympian Michael Phelps among other elite swimmers. The newest addition to the list of elite clubs is Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team, where the elite program will be placed under the direction of 2008 U.S. Olympic Assistant Coach and 2009 World Championship Women's Head Coach Sean Hutchison. Additionally, five-time Olympic coach Jon Urbanchek will join the staff at FAST in May of 2010.
"As more athletes are choosing to continue to train and compete well beyond their college years, it became evident that we needed to provide additional club environments in which they would have the best opportunity for success," said Mark Schubert, USA Swimming National Team Head Coach and General Manager. "We are grateful to the U.S. Olympic Committee for recognizing this need, and putting the necessary resources behind it. I am confident that these three Centers, under the guidance of David Marsh, Bob Bowman and Sean Hutchison, will continue to breed success for Team USA at the highest levels of competition."
Hutchison, who is currently the head coach of Seattle-based King Aquatic Club, will move to FAST where he will coach the elite program, in September.
"This is an incredible opportunity for post-grad swimmers looking to find their next step in training and preparation," said Hutchison. "I'm honored and excited to be a part of this program."
The three Clubs will be the only USOC Professional and Post-Grad Training Centers (for swimming) designated in the 2008-2012 quadrennium. All three Centers will be evaluated at the end of cycle.