Geoff Hanson Named Head Swim Coach at Southern Illinois

Geoff Hanson will take over as head coach of Southern Illinois Swimming and Diving after the retirement of Rick Walker; Photo Courtesy: Southern Illinois Swimming and Diving

Southern Illinois announced on Wednesday that Geoff Hanson has been named head coach for the swimming and diving program, taking over for 32-year coaching veteran Rick Walker, who retired earlier this year.

Hanson has 19 years of collegiate coaching experience, including the last three seasons as head coach at Division II Colorado Mesa (2017-19) and two years as head coach at Western State Colorado (2015-16). He was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year on both the men’s and women’s sides in 2019 and has won the award five times in the last five seasons.

Colorado Mesa set school records for highest finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships in both 2018 and 2019. The Mavericks finished a school-best 11th on the men’s side and 16th on the women’s side in 2019. Hanson also served as the school’s triathlon squad head coach and led the program to a runner-up finish at the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships in the fall of 2018 after winning the West Regional.

Hanson takes over a storied Saluki swimming and diving program that has produced 378 All-Americans and 24 Olympians in its history.

“It was extremely important to us that the search process recognized our rich swimming and diving tradition, and retiring head coach Rick Walker,” said SIU’s senior woman administrator, Liz Jarnigan. “Geoff Hanson has demonstrated the commitment to student-athlete development, recruiting and winning that we value. It was clear when members of our staff and of our swimming team met with him, that he will be a great fit in our Saluki family.”

The Salukis finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference on the women’s side in 2019 and third in the Mid-American Conference on the men’s side. Two divers advanced to the NCAA Zone C Diving Championship and four Southern Illinois swimmers competed at the CSCAA National Invitational Championship.

“I was impressed by the people I met at SIU, especially the vision for athletics I heard from Liz and (Director of Athletics) Coach Kill,” Hanson said. “I heard about what Coach Kill has done over the past year, and his enthusiasm and belief in what SIU can do. When I got a chance to see the facilities, the natatorium, the chance to get around campus and see the beautiful setting, I realized it’s a hidden gem.”

Before becoming a head coach, Hanson served as the associate head coach at Pac-12 Arizona for two years and was an assistant head coach at Big Ten Wisconsin for 10 years, after serving as assistant coach his first two years with the Badgers.

Hanson was the personal coach of Carly Piper, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and set a world record in the 4×200 freestyle relay. He also coached Alyssa Anderson, who won a gold medal in the 4×200 freestyle relay at the 2012 London Olympics.

In his 19 years of collegiate coaching, Hanson has coached five Olympic finalists and four individual NCAA National Champions.

“I’ve coached at all levels from developmental, to Olympians and National Champions, and everything in between,” Hanson said. “It’s tough to replace a legend like Coach Walker, but I hope to bring some fresh ideas. I’m still evolving as a coach and will bring some new philosophies and training practices to SIU. I look forward to meeting the Salukis, and to start building relationships and developing NCAA National Championship qualifiers.”

Hanson swam collegiately at Arizona, earning All-American honorable mention accolades. He was a two-time USA Swimming National Finalist and earned the Mary Roby Academic/Athletic Achievement Award. Hanson earned All-Academic Pac-10 honors and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in history with a minor in sociology.

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Southern Illinois Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Jeff Dugdale

    Congratulations Geoff! Going to miss sharing the deck and Tri course with you. Best wishes.