Interim Assistant Coach David Marsh Makes Impact on Cal Men’s Championship Run

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David Marsh (right) with Cal men's head coach Dave Durden -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Interim Assistant Coach David Marsh Makes Impact on Cal Men’s Championship Run

Over the past few decades, David Marsh built a résumé as one of the most accomplished swim coaches in the country. He won 12 national titles as head coach at Auburn (seven men’s and five women’s), and since 2007, he has coached some of the top professionals in the country, first in Charlotte and more recently in San Diego, where he also returned to college swimming with UC-San Diego for a few years. Marsh has worked on several U.S. Olympic team coaching staffs, including as women’s head coach in 2016.

But for the past two months, Marsh has been one of the the most overqualified fill-in coaches in college swimming history.

Cal men’s coach Dave Durden once worked for Marsh as an assistant during the Auburn days, and with Cal assistant Chase Kreitler and his wife expecting their first child, Durden asked Marsh to come to Cal as the interim assistant coach for the season’s final two months. Marsh then had the opportunity to contribute to another championship as the Golden Bears pulled away from Texas on the final day.

With the win, Durden joined a short list of coaches to win five men’s championships in the 21st century, along with Texas coach Eddie Reese and Marsh. When asked after the win about how Marsh helped Cal, Durden raved about Marsh’s ability to provide a new perspective for Cal swimmers and share his knowledge about racing and technique accumulated through years of coaching athletes on the highest level of the sport.

“For the last seven weeks, he made these guys better for these three-and-a-half days,” Durden said. “It’s really cool to get back to a spot where I can share the pool deck with my mentor. There’s just a level of trust. I can say, ‘David, go take these three guys,’ and I come back 30 minutes later, and they’re floating upside down and doing different things but helping them be better for this moment in time.”

It may have been 15 years since Marsh’s last title at Auburn, but Durden said, “The guy has won so many national titles. He knows how to navigate this meet.”

Similarly, the Cal swimmers were grateful to have had Marsh join their program and provide a fresh yet experienced set of eyes to help them improve in the final stretch before a championship run.

“I think every single one of us learned something new from him almost every practice,” Cal fifth-year Daniel Carr said. “Some of the things he had to say about our swimming just about being technical made us that much better. We could not be more thankful for him taking a chance on us and coming to Cal, and for him and Dave to coach together again, it was something that I will be forever proud of, proud to look back at and be like, ‘That was pretty special.’”

Aside from the coaching, Durden said that he and his wife, Cathy, thoroughly enjoyed having Marsh and his wife, former Cal swimmer Kristen, involved heavily in their lives over the course of that stretch. “It was really cool for our athletes, but it was even more special to me,” Durden said. “It was phenomenal. He has perspective. You earn perspective through all the experiences that he’s had, and it was just great to experience that the past seven weeks.”