Brian Barnes Hired as Duke Swimming’s New Head Coach

Photo Courtesy: Duke Athletics

Brian Barnes Hired as Duke Swimming’s New Head Coach

Duke University on Monday announced the hiring of Brian Barnes as the program’s new director of swimming and diving.

Barnes makes the in-state move from NC State, where he spent the last three years as the associate head coach. Barnes is the sixth head coach in Duke history, replacing the late Dan Colella.

“I want to thank President Vincent Price, Director of Athletics Nina King and the rest of the hiring committee for this opportunity,” Barnes said in a university statement. “I am humbled and honored to follow the late Dan Colella in this role. Dan’s passion for the sport and his student-athletes is something that I strive to continue and follow here at Duke. I have been so fortunate throughout my coaching career to have been surrounded by so many amazing swimmers, divers and coaching peers. Accepting the head coaching job at Duke is a product of all those influences and I remain humble knowing that not everyone is afforded an opportunity like this. I want to thank my 16-year-old son, Jack, and 14-year-old daughter, Caroline. I have always made these decisions looking through their lens and they have been right beside me at every stage in this process, often sending me supportive texts and messages for added inspiration. I have been moved by their support.”

Barnes has charted a long coaching career since his graduation from Indiana University. With NC State, Barnes helped the Wolfpack men win ACC titles in 2022 and 2023. The men’s team finished fourth at NCAAs in 2022 with the women fifth. Both teams were in the top eight at NCAAs all three of his seasons there.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Brian and his family are joining the Duke Blue Devil family,” Director of Athletics Nina King said. “His passion and knowledge of the sport, along with his compassion for student-athletes resonated with us during the hiring process. He has clearly demonstrated success as a head coach at this level and we truly look forward to Brian getting started in this role. I have no doubt that Brian Barnes is absolutely the right person to build upon Dan Colella’s longtime success with Duke swimming and diving.”

Before NC State, Barnes spent two years as an assistant coach to the men’s team at Purdue, helping the Boilermakers in 2020 win their first Big Ten relay medal in 11 years. He was a three-time Big East Coach of the Year at the helm of the women’s team at Notre Dame. He led the Fightin’ Irish to Big East titles in 2009 and 2010 and oversaw their transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference. He also coached Emma Reaney, Notre Dame’s first NCAA swimming champion and the 2014 ACC Women’s Swimmer of the Year.

Barnes also coached at Kansas and Auburn. The native of Osceola, Ind., was a seven-time All-American at Indiana. He qualified for the U.S. national team in 1989 and 1992 and swam at U.S. Olympic Trials in 1992 and 1996.

“Brian will do a great job leading the Duke men’s and women’s program!,” said David Marsh, the associate head coach at the University of California Berkeley. “Coach Barnes is one of the absolute best coaches I’ve ever shared the deck with. He understands the science, art, and the student-athlete experience that is so critical in college coaching. High school swimmers who want to strive for World Class performances and have the amazing Duke experience (as my daughter did) will be wise to consider Duke University. Coach Barnes professional development working with many of the nation’s top programs can give Blue Devil fans and the current swimmers and divers confidence that there are exciting days ahead!”

“Brian Barnes has one of the finest swimming minds of our day,” said retired Purdue men’s coach Dan Ross. “His coaching tree of Ray Looze, Richard Quick, David Marsh, and more recently Braden Holloway and the legendary Mark Bernadino, are as good as they get. He made me a better coach during his time at Purdue. Very positive and complimentary of all of his co-workers wherever he worked. He can coach any event, any sex and any physiological makeup. With the right staff around him, Duke will flourish. He knows how to recruit outstanding students who are excellent swimmers from being at Notre Dame and Purdue with similar academics to Duke.”

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9 months ago

Congrats Brian! Absolute slam dunk for Duke!

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