Terry Ganley Announces Retirement after 44 Seasons with Minnesota Swimming

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Photo Courtesy: Minnesota Athletics

The longest-tenured coach in the history of Gopher Athletics, Terry Ganley, has announced her retirement after 44 seasons with the swimming and diving programs. Ganley is one of the most-decorated, pivotal and important athletic figures at the University.

The statistics from her coaching career are staggering. She helped lead the Golden Gophers to seven team Big Ten Championships and 17 NCAA Top-15 finishes. On her watch, the Gophers won 15 individual national titles, earned All-America honors 299 times and accumulated 532 All-America certificates. Her student-athletes also claimed 147 Big Ten championships, and her women’s program amassed a dual meet record of 318-83-5 during the 44 seasons.

“Today I had the privilege to do something that not many people get to do,” Terry Ganley said. “I was able to announce my retirement from the place where I spent four years as a student-athlete and then coached for 44 years. Maroon and Gold is and always will be home for me. It was an honor to teach, coach and mentor the young women and men of this great program. I am truly blessed to have spent my career as a Gopher.”

Ganley’s story involves much more than coaching. A Minneapolis native, she began her Gopher career in the fall of 1973 as a freshman swimmer and has remained on campus ever since. She won her first Big Ten title in 1974, winning the 50 backstroke. She would advance to the AIAW National Championships, where she sold t-shirts to help fund her trip to the meet. That March, she would go on to earn All-America honors in the event, becoming Minnesota’s first female All-American in any sport. She would go on to earn All-America honors two more times in 1975 (50 freestyle and 100 individual medley) and once more in 1976 in the 200 freestyle relay. She won the 1977 Big Ten title in the 100 individual medley as well.

After the conclusion of her swimming career and a degree in physical education in 1977, she began her coaching career under her college coach, Jean Freeman. The coaching combo began a steady build of the program that included numerous close calls in claiming the program’s first Big Ten championship. The Gophers finished second nine times between 1984 and 1998. Finally, the Gophers broke through to win their first Big Ten title in 1999 and a second one the next year. In 1997, Ganley coached Gretchen Hegener to the 1997 national title in the 100 breaststroke, to mark Minnesota’s first NCAA swimming title.

“I want to congratulate Terry on her well-earned retirement,” said Director of Athletics Mark Coyle. “Her story is one of perseverance, dedication and triumph and her legacy as one of the best ever – to compete in the Maroon and Gold and to coach the Maroon and Gold – is well secured. She broke barriers as a student-athlete and then positively impacted thousands of Gopher athletes as a coach. Terry set a standard of excellence and we wish her well in her retirement.”

In 2004, Freeman retired and Ganley was named interim coach. Eventually, Ganley and Kelly Kremer, who had been coaching with the men’s program, were named co-head coaches of the women’s team. The duo earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and led the Gopher women to their third conference title in 2008.

When the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs merged in 2011, Kremer was named the overall head coach. Ganley continued in her role as women’s head coach, and later her current role as women’s and men’s senior associate head coach.

“There aren’t enough words, or words big enough, for an occasion like this,” said Kremer. “Terry is the standard for how to love and care for this University and program, and she will be greatly missed. Personally, she is a close friend, colleague and mentor, and I know she will continue to support us as she takes this next step in her life. I would like to thank her and congratulate her!  What an amazing legacy!”

The program then began a period of unprecedented success becoming the school’s first women’s team to win four consecutive Big Ten championships, repeating from 2012-15. From 2006 to 2015, the Gophers finished no lower than 13th at the NCAA Championships, including a program-best ninth in 2011. In 2014, Minnesota finished 10th at the NCAA meet, snagging All-America honors in 16 different events, a program record. Terry Ganley was involved in the development of three NCAA Champions during this period as well. The Gophers swept the breaststroke events in 2011 with Jillian Tyler winning the 100 and Haley Spencer taking the 200. In 2015, Kierra Smith won the 200 breaststroke. Ganley finished on the highest note possible, assisting in the development of Max McHugh, who won the NCAA title in the 100 and 200 breaststroke in March, becoming the first men’s NCAA swimming champion in nearly 60 years.

Confirming Ganley’s commitment to a well-rounded student-athlete experience, eight members of the women’s program have won the Big Ten Medal of Honor. At least a dozen women have earned Academic All-Big Ten status in each of Ganley’s ­­­17 years as head coach or associate head coach.

Ganley was inducted into the Minnesota Aquatics Hall of Fame in 1984 and the M Club Hall of Fame in 1990.

Ganley’s 44-year tenure is matched by former football assistant coach George “Butch” Nash who served for 44 seasons from 1947 to 1980.

Terry Ganley’s Gopher Timeline
1973 – Arrives at the University of Minnesota as a freshman swimmer
1974 – Becomes the Gophers’ first All-American in any sport
1976 – The final of Ganley’s four All-America honors came on the 200 freestyle relay in 1976, teaming with Cindy Anderson, Cheryl Swanum and Joni Ellis
1977 – Graduates from Minnesota and joins the women’s swimming staff as an assistant coach
1984 – Inducted into Minnesota Aquatics Hall of Fame
1990 – Inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame
1997 – Gretchen Hegener becomes Minnesota’s first NCAA swimming champion and breaks the American record in the 100 breaststroke
1999 – Serves as assistant coach for the Gophers’ first Big Ten team title and first of two in a row
2004 – Named interim head coach, and then co-head coach with Kelly Kremer, after Jean Freeman’s retirement
2006 – Earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors with Kremer
2008 – Wins third conference championship
2011 – Gopher women’s and men’s programs combine; Ganley becomes senior associate head coach for both teams. Jillian Tyler and Haley Spencer win the 100 and 200 breaststroke events respectively.
2012 – Starts four-year run of women’s Big Ten championships
2015 – Wins fourth consecutive and seventh overall Big Ten women’s swimming and diving title. Kierra Smith wins the 200 breaststroke national title.
2021 – Max McHugh wins the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships, marking Minnesota’s first men’s NCAA swimming champ since 1964. Ganley retires following a 44-year coaching career at the U of M

Longest Coaching Tenures at the U of M
44 years – Terry Ganley, Swimming & Diving (1977-78 to 2020-21)
44 years – George “Butch” Nash, Football (1947 to 1980)
43 years – John Anderson, Baseball (1979 to present)
38 years – Niels Thorpe, Swimming & Diving (1919-20 to 1956-57)
38 years – Ralph Piper, Gymnastics (1930 to 1962, 1963 to 1968)
36 years – Russ Fystrom, Gymnastics (1981 to 2016)
35 years – Wally Johson, Wrestling (1951-52 to 1985-86)
34 years – Lynne Anderson, Track & Field (1980 to 2013)
34 years – Fred Roethlisberger, Gymnastics (1971 to 2004)
33 years – Roy Griak, Track & Field / Cross Country (1963 to 95)
33 years – Rob Fornasiere, Baseball (1986 to 2018)
31 years – Dick Siebert, Baseball (1948 to 78)
31 years – J Robinson, Wrestling (1985-96 to 2015-16)
31 years – Jean Freeman, Swimming (1973-74 to 2003-04)
31 years – Les Bolstad, Golf (1946 to 76)
30 years – Dennis Dale, Swimming (1984-85 to 2013-14)

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Ruthie Hyde Porteus

    Congratulations Terry! What a story & life well lived from student to coach at U of Minn! I think your Alumni needs to sponsor the Terry Gann Champion Tshirt Scholarship!:). Jean would be so proud & happy for you. Cheers to fun times ahead & sunny days! From Ruthie Hyde Porteus & The 82-86 Buckeyes:). (We always thought the Minnesota Gopher Girls we’re tops! Reach out – FB If any of u are coming to a game in Columbus, I live 14 mins up the road from our stadium.)