Garrett McCaffrey Unexpectedly Resigns as Phoenix Swim Club Head Coach

Phoenix-Swim Club

Garrett McCaffrey has stepped down as head coach of the Phoenix Swim Club (PSC). He announced his departure on Wednesday, April 14 via an email to the club membership after a meeting by the Board of Directors.  An official notification went out hours later from club management.

McCaffrey has been with the Phoenix Swim Club in various capacities for the past nine years. He swam collegiately at Missouri before working as a journalist for Floswimming and a producer for SwimmingWorld.TV, then joining the Phoenix Swim Club as an assistant coach. With no head coaching experience, he was given the leadership role at PSC when it was left vacant by Coley Stickels who left in 2012 to go on to coach Olympic athletes at Canyons Aquatic Club and most recently at Alabama University.

The famed 10-acre facility housing the Phoenix Swim Club was demolished following the 2013 fall high school season. Houses now cover its once state-of-the-art 50 and 25-meter pools.

The Phoenix Swim Club relocated in Paradise Valley, Arizona and merged with the Arizona Marlins. The new location is only miles away from PSC’s current home.  The leadership of PSC and the Arizona Marlins agreed to go forward as one club under the Phoenix Swim Club name.  PSC head coach Garrett McCaffrey along with Arizona Marlins leadership Mike and Ken Maczuga set up two different training programs.  The Marlin program embraced traditional training with their long and rich history in producing outstanding young men and women that excel in and out of the pool.  McCaffrey chose to embrace the untested theories of USRPT.  The split in training methods was a unique experiment in club culture that many in the swimming world thought was doomed from the beginning.

The club’s Olympic history is highlighted by the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Phoenix Swim Club swimmers combined to win nine Olympic medals (four gold, three silver and two bronze) at the Games, a tally surpassing all but five countries that sent athletes.

This was due in part to the Phoenix Swim Club housing the World Sprint Team (now called The Race Club and relocated in Florida and California), created in a joint effort by famed coach Mike Bottom and three-time Olympian Gary Hall Sr. Hall’s son, Gary Hall Jr., trained alongside Anthony Ervin as members of the World Sprint Team. The duo tied for Olympic gold in the 50 freestyle at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. On The Race Club website, Gary Hall Jr. credits the Phoenix Swim Club as the reason he began competitive swimming.

A number of notable world-class coaches have come through the club’s doors, including:

Dennis Pursley (former National Team Coach for USA Swimming and Great Britain, and Alabama head coach), Pierre La Fontaine (former Head of Canadian Swimming), Eric Hansen (former head coach of Arizona University), Ray Looze (now head coach of Indiana), Dave Gibson (now at Fort Lauderdale), Roric Fink (now coaching in Texas), Mike Bottom (now head coach of the University of Michigan), and Brent Rutemiller (publisher of Swimming World Magazine and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame).

McCaffrey released this statement about his resignation:

Phoenix Swim Club has kindled my passion for the sport of swimming for over a decade now. First sparked as a masters swimmer, then age group and senior coach, and eventually as the head coach. I’ve always thought of PSC as swimming paradise. The beautiful pools, the deck views, the Olympic Rings that seem to wander on deck all the time. It’s a special place.
 
As a member of the coaching staff for almost 10 years now, I’ve done my best to treat it as a special place. We’ve been through 3 head coaches, a pool closure, a merger, a pandemic, and everything in between. I’ve grown as a coach, we’ve grown as a club, and many lifelong relationships were grown in the process. I am stepping down as head coach because I believe it is the best way to keep growing.
 
I want to thank the long list of staff over the years who I’ve learned from and with. I want to thank the parents who have supported and challenged me. Most of all, I want to thank the swimmers. I hope you know the love that you have shown me is something I hope to carry forever.
 
Sincerely
Garrett McCaffrey

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The Phoenix Swim Club confirmed his resignation and released a statement to its members.

“Garrett McCaffrey has announced his resignation as Head Coach of the Phoenix Swim Club, effective April 14th. Garrett has spent over 9 years on the PSC deck, first at the pool on Campbell and then here at the PCDS Aquatic Center. He has enthusiastically supported a myriad of swimmers from our 5-year-old beginners to our young at heart Masters. Garrett has also guided many to their next step into college swimming. We will miss his knowledge and passion for the sport of swimming and wish him and his family every success in their future endeavors. PSC’s current coaching staff will cover any open responsibilities,” the Phoenix Swim Club statement read.

5 comments

  1. avatar
    swimlong

    “ The Marlin program embraced traditional training with their long and rich history in producing outstanding young men and women that excel in and out of the pool. McCaffrey chose to embrace the untested theories of USRPT.”

    This could of been worded way better. Almost seems like there is a tie to the training methods to swimmer’s character. Could of easily mentioned there were experiments inside the club that embraced a more traditional training method and USRPT.

    Not to mention, there is only one way to make theories go from untested to tested…

    • avatar
      Mark Hesse

      definitely agree the word choices is poor at best and downright disrespectful at the worst. My impression was the coaching staff realized that swimmers are individuals and no single training program would meet the diverse needs of the athletes. Lots of good people involved there.

  2. avatar
    Anonymous

    Since the beginning PSC has fostered an environment that only cares about the parent’s agendas and not the swimmers. This has been displayed time and time again, stemming from the PSC board making serious and hidden decisions without letting any of the members or swimmers know. As long as the board continues to make these hidden decisions that aren’t in the best interest of their athletes, PSC will be doomed as a club.

    • avatar
      Paul Root

      As a former coach on that staff, the writing of this article is offensive. To say Garrett “embraced USRPT” while Mike embraced traditional is such an over simplification. Mike would likely take issue with the reference to his training as traditional as well. Furthermore, the merger clearly worked fine as has lasted 7 years and all parties learned and honed their techniques for the betterment of the sport.

  3. avatar
    anonymous

    It’s disappointing to see so many coaches leave PSC over the last few years. Similarly, while Garrett is entitled to resign at any time (and may have had good reason to), such an abrupt notice feels either unprofessional or lacking respect for the club and its swimmers. It leaves us wondering just when (or if) the leadership that remains will, in fact, provide any.

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