Gary Taylor Hired as New Auburn Swimming Head Coach

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Photo Courtesy: Sarah D. Davis/theACC.com

Gary Taylor has been hired as the new head coach of the Auburn swimming and diving team, Swimming World has learned. Taylor replaces Brett Hawke, who resigned in March after the NCAA championships. Auburn officially announced the hire Sunday evening.

Taylor was previously the associate head coach at NC State, where he was primarily responsible for the distance group. Swimmers he coached included Anton Ipsen, this year’s NCAA champion in the 1650 free, and U.S. National team member Hannah Moore.

Hawke had been head coach at Auburn since 2009. He served as interim men’s head coach during the spring of 2009, leading the Tigers to an NCAA championship. He took over the combined program when head coach Richard Quick died that summer, but neither Auburn’s women nor men have posted a top-five national finish in the decade since.

But despite the lack of recent success, Auburn has traditionally been one of the country’s top programs. The Tiger men are eight-time national champions, with all of the titles coming between 1997 and 2009, and the Auburn women won five times in six years from 2002 to 2007.

All but the last of the men’s titles came under head coach David Marsh, and Marsh was among those connected to the job opening after Hawke’s resignation. Dave Durden, the current Cal men’s coach, was also connected to the job after he spent several seasons as an assistant on Marsh’s staff.

UPDATE: Auburn sent a press release announcing Taylor’s hire Sunday evening, and Taylor posted a tweet thanking his collegues and swimmers for his six seasons at NC State. Both are available below.

Gary Taylor, who has spent the previous six seasons at North Carolina State, including the last two as associate head coach, has been named head coach of the Auburn swimming and diving program, Director of Athletics Allen Greene announced Sunday.

“The search process for our new head coach was focused on finding the best fit for Auburn. It was important to find a coach who is committed to developing our student-athletes academically while also competing for conference and national championships as we have throughout the storied history of Auburn’s swimming & diving program,” said Director of Athletics AllenGreene. “Coach Taylor’s values, expertise and experience align with the expectations I have for all of our head coaches. He also shares my obsession for the student-athlete experience, my obsession for winning championships and my obsession for making the Auburn Family proud.”

Taylor played a vital part in guiding the NC State men to four-straight Atlantic Coast Conference Championship titles and three consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including top four finishes in each of the last three years. In addition, the Wolfpack women were crowned conference champions in 2017, tabbing its first conference title since 1980. The women’s team also achieved its highest NCAA finish in program history, placing seventh in 2017.

“I would like to thank President Steven Leath and Athletics Director Allen Greene for providing me with this awesome opportunity. I am extremely excited to lead the Auburn Swimming & Diving program,” Taylor said. “It has been a goal and aspiration of mine to be a head coach in the SEC. The opportunity to lead the Auburn program is certainly a dream for me. I’m really excited to begin working with the student-athletes, getting my hands dirty and doing everything I can on a daily basis to develop this program into a team that performs at the level everyone expects.”

Taylor’s primary responsibility with the NC State program was working with the distance freestyle events and stroke aspects and assisting with recruiting responsibilities. In six seasons Taylor coached 11 swimmers to NC State school records and 97 to all-time top 10 performances.

This past season, Taylor’s distance group was the only in Division I to have a male and female finish in top three of 1650 freestyle at the NCAA Championships, including NCAA men’s champion AntonIpsen. The NC State men earned a fourth-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships, winning a program-best five NCAA titles. The women finished 18th, which included three top-16 finishes in the 1650 free.

Ipsen was named the 2018 ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year as he earned All-America honors in the 500 free and All-America honorable mention honors in the 400 IM to go along with his 1650 free title. He was an ACC Champion in the 1650 free, 500 free, 400 IM and 800 free relay.

During the 2016-17 season, Taylor coached four athletes to the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships where they earned seven total All-America honors. At the ACC Championships, he led Ipsen to his third-straight title in the 500 free and a runner-up finish in the 1650 free. Adam Linker also tabbed All-ACC honors in the 500 and 1650 free events. On the women’s side, Taylor helped Hannah Moore to All-ACC honors in the 500 free and 400 IM and Rachel Muller to a third place finish in the 1650 free.

Taylor also played a part in the development of recent graduate Christian McCurdy and Justin Ress’s successful rookie season. McCurdy was a three-time ACC Champion and All-American during his career and Ress was named the 2016 ACC Male Freshman of the Year. Ipsen tabbed the mention in 2015, marking the second-straight year a Wolfpack swimmer earned the honor.

On the women’s side Taylor helped the Pack create program history in the 2015-16 season as the team placed second at the ACC Championship and ninth at NCAAs. This marked the highest conference and national finish since 1982. In her first semester with the Wolfpack sophomore Moore earned All-ACC and All-America honors in three events while senior transfer Shelly Craddock earned the first All-America honor of her career as a member of the 12th-place 800 free relay. She also helped the relay squad place second at ACCs. Additionally, Rachel Muller wrapped up the most successful season of her career at NC State as she placed third in the 1650 free at the conference championship and collected four All-America honors from her second trip to NCAAs.

In his third season at NC State, Taylor guided freshman Ipsen to a sweep in the distance freestyle events at the ACC Championships, as Ipsen won the 500 and 1650 free. For his performance at the conference championships, Ipsen was named ACC Male Freshman of the Year. Taylor also saw Ipsen collect All-America honors in both events, as he finished fifth in the 1650 and 10thin the 500 to set school records. Under his tutelage, Taylor also saw Linker earn an invite to the USA Swimming Open Water Select Camp- an exclusive camp which only 24 swimmers around the country are invited to participate in.

Taylor’s second season saw Austin Snyder earn All-ACC accolades in the 1650 free, as he finished second overall with a time of 15:09.06, the second best time in school history. Taylor was also instrumental in helping freshman Linker earn a top-five finish at the ACC Championships with a time of 15:14.02 and the third fastest time in the history of the program.

In Taylor’s first season with the program, Snyder and Brandon Kingston earned NCAA`B’ Standards in the 1650 freestyle event. Snyder’s time of 15:12.16 in the ACC Championships was the second best time in school history. Taylor also assisted in signing a 23-member recruiting class that features athletes from around the globe.

Prior to joining the NC State staff, Taylor spent the previous four years as the distance coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida State. The distance program at Florida State flourished under Taylor’s tutelage as eight school records were broken during his stint with the program, and 43 all-time top-10 marks were achieved.

Taylor guided four athletes to individual crowns at the ACC Championships while at Florida State, including Juan Sequera, who was named Freshman of the Year in 2012, and Mateo DeAngulo, who took home Swimmer of the Year and Performer of the Championships honors. Taylor guided seven individuals to the NCAA Championships over the course of his four seasons, including DeAngulo, who earned first team All-America honors in 2012.

Aside from coaching the distance program, Taylor was also a valuable recruiter for the Seminoles, and played a key role in signing several top national recruits, as well as top classes. Last season’s incoming class at Florida State was ranked No. 19 in the country.

Prior to taking the reigns of the distance program at Florida State, Taylor spent three years coaching for the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta, Ga. He coached multiple age sectional and state record holders, as well as age group sectional and state champions. He was named the Georgia Age Group Coach of the Year in 2007.

Before coaching with the Dynamo, Taylor spent six years with the Twin Cities Swim Team. He was the lead site coach in Minnetonka, Minn., and gained experience in both the business and coaching aspects of the sport through the program.Taylor was a former student-athlete at the University of Minnesota, and was a member of the 1998 Big Ten Championship swimming team. He graduated in 2001 with a B.S. in sport management.

Taylor is married to the former Amy Mutarelli of Ocala, Fla. She is an Auburn graduate.

What others are saying about Gary Taylor…

Braden Holloway, head coach, NC State

“Gary is an exceptionally hungry and determined coach. He is always a student of the sport and always one to share ideas, and that is the beauty of Gary. He is constantly exploring how to make athletes better. He is a very professional and loyal individual to his colleagues, friends and family.

“Gary has been very instrumental in the rise of our program at NC State. He is a great coach and a great friend and I know he will do big things at Auburn. It is absolutely a great fit for Gary.”

Kelly Kremer, head coach, Minnesota

“I can’t imagine a better hire. Gary has paid his dues and he has been waiting for the right opportunity. I’m really happy that he found it in Auburn.”

10 comments

  1. Barb Scouler

    oh my gosh Gary!! I’m so excited for you 🙂

  2. Thorn Turner

    Congrats Gary and great hire Auburn!

  3. avatar

    Did not see this coming. I hope it works out for our team no doubt. Will give him a chance to see what he can do.

  4. avatar
    Booger

    Wow. You coached dynamo. Very cool

  5. avatar
    justsaying

    Interesting, they are paying him 20K less than the top assistant last year and cut $100 K from the assistant coaching salaries. This makes sense as to why many alumni and others would not even consider. Looks like the AD’s last act as AD at Buffalo was to cut swimming and his first as AD of AU was to fire swimming coach. I’m getting the feeling he can’t swim.