USA Swimming, Speedo USA Announce 30 Most Influential People In Swimming Over the Past 30 Years

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the partnership between USA Swimming and Speedo USA, the organizations announced the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming over the Past 30 Years” to recognize those who have made a significant impact to propel swimming into the pre-eminent Olympic sport.

The decorated athletes, coaches, media and governance leaders are honored for their direct and significant influence in the growth of American swimming – through innovations, growing participation in the sport, increasing the reputation of the sport through his/her contributions, shaping the swimming industry or trailblazing a path for the sport to move forward in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Honorees, whose bios may be found on, include:

Photo Courtesy: YouTube/USOC

Donna de Varona

Note: Photos by Peter Bick, USA Today, Griffin Scott, Taylor Brien, Joao Marc Bosch,  Heidi Torregroza & Matthew Stockman

“These individuals are synonymous with the incredible growth we’ve enjoyed in swimming, at every stage: learning to swim, team swimming, college level and representing our country on the podium,” said Jim Sheehan, USA Swimming President. “The commitment and contributions from Speedo USA have been instrumental over the last 30 years for many of the ‘Who’s Who’ on this list and thousands of others who participate in our sport on a daily basis.”

Individuals on the #30MostSwimfluential list were evaluated on contributions to the sport in the United States from 1985-2015. Eligibility for consideration and selection was not dependent on an association with Speedo. A panel consisting of select USA Swimming staff, USA Swimming Board of Directors, coaches, industry historians and media determined the final list.

“Speedo USA supports swimmers and coaches at all levels and we are proud of our 30 year partnership with USA Swimming” said Speedo USA President Jim Gerson. “This milestone is an opportunity to celebrate the progress of the sport over the past 30 years and the incredible individuals whose contributions have been instrumental to its growth.”

Speedo, title sponsor of this week’s Junior National Championships, became an official sponsor of USA Swimming in 1985. Some of the 30-year partnership highlights include:

– Speedo has been title sponsor of the Junior National Championships since 1993
– Speedo Sectionals, a collection of 20-plus regional meets that serves as the first step in the Championship Series progression, was created in 2001
– USA Swimming and Speedo USA launched the inaugural Summer Splash Tour in 2003 to raise awareness of the sport. The Tour visited 100 cities in 100 days, stopping at swim meets, beaches and water parks
– Creation of the 50 Top Swim Cities in the United States. Ann Arbor, Michigan, topped the list in the study’s first two years

Speedo USA is also a partner in the SwimToday initiative, a first-of-its-kind marketing collaboration within the swimming industry. It is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is supported by a fun, light-hearted advertising campaign which emphasizes the fun side of the sport. It includes social media materials, print posters, digital ads, bag tags, bumper stickers and a “swim cap certificate” to celebrate the achievement of graduating from a learn to swim program into trying a team. The culturally-inclusive campaign materials show that kids of all backgrounds and abilities are invited into the sport.

About USA Swimming
As the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States, USA Swimming is a 400,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education. Our membership is comprised of swimmers from the age group level to the Olympic Team, as well as coaches and volunteers. USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic Games, and strives to serve the sport through its core objectives: Build the base, Promote the sport, Achieve competitive success. For more information, visit

About Speedo
Speedo is the world’s leading swimwear brand. The teams at Speedo USA are passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs and innovations, and supporting swimming from the grassroots to the elite level. In the 1920’s, Speedo made history with the Racerback, the world’s first non-wool suit. In 2008, Speedo redefined swimwear again with Fastskin LZR RACER, one of the fastest and most technologically advanced swimsuits ever created; 2011 saw Speedo unveil another world first with the Fastskin Racing System – a cap, goggle and suit designed to work together as one.  Speedo is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V. and distributed in over 170 countries around the world; in North America and the Caribbean, Speedo is licensed exclusively to Warnaco Swimwear Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH Corp. [NYSE: PVH]. To find out more, visit

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World. To reach our audience, contact us at


    • avatar
      Karen Jiggetts

      First name I looked for!

    • avatar
      Kirk Nelson

      You missed the “over the last 30 years” part.

      • avatar
        Peter Scott

        Still he has had influence into the 30year period as seen by the talk of number of medals he won at the Olympics and comparing with Michael Phelps. He was the standard to emulate or beat. Thus he should be included.

      • avatar
        Kirk Nelson

        By this logic FDR should be included in a list of the most influential politicians of the last 30 years.

  1. avatar

    Maybe I’m missing something here but this list falls far short and is disappointing as a swimmer and a fan.

  2. avatar
    D3 Advocate

    No Jim Steen – – – and only 5 women? – Katie Ledecky – has been around for 3 years but look at what she has done! Natalie Coughlin is also missing? On the men’s side, besides missing Jim Steen, there is no Ryan Lochte and Pablo Morales?

    I assume Spitz is not on the list because it does not begin until the mid-1980s.

    Clearly, this list is meant for debate.

  3. Tim Nelson

    No Mary T., Summer Sanders, Natalie?

  4. avatar
    Karen Jiggetts

    Biggest Omission: Mark Spitz!

    • avatar

      Spitz isn’t relevant past 30 years…

      • avatar
        Peter Scott

        If Spitz wasn’t relevant why was his name continually mentioned in connection with Michael Phelps’s efforts at the Beijing Olympics? His influence extends well into the 30year period. He set a standard to beat thus has had an influence. His name should be included in that regard.

  5. avatar
    Bill V

    No Phil Whitten?

  6. avatar

    How does Doc Counsilman not make this list? And Ernie Maglischo, and other swimming performance researchers?

  7. avatar

    Natalie Coughlin and Teri McKeever??

    • avatar

      Oops I missed McKeever, sorry. But Nat belongs too!! They were symbiotic in the changes they brought to swimming!

  8. avatar

    Olympian Josh Davis gets my vote!

    • avatar

      *Skip Kenney

  9. Kal Van

    I’m very disappointed that only 5 women made this list.

  10. avatar

    No Missy Franklin????????????

  11. Peggy Haslach

    Congrats Brent! But how does Chuck make the list and not Nancy Hogshead-Makar?

  12. avatar
    Peter Scott

    Should this not be correctly entitled the most influential in American Swimming? Not many foreigners listed here!!!

    • avatar

      Well, it’s a list by Speedo *USA* and *USA* Swimming………
      just sayin…

    • Libby Jett

      Or Katie ledecky and missy Franklin

  13. avatar

    What a shame, it’s a typical american list, where’s the rest of the world? Alexander Popov, “Albatros” Michael Groß, Wladimir Salnikov – just to name three.

    Come on USA, come on Speedo, please show us that you can do better than this list of ignorance.

  14. Matt Mulligan

    James Doc Counsilman. The science of swimming.

  15. Ava Antoninka Maldonado

    No mark Spitz? What a glaring omission. What records were Phelps trying to break so hard? Spitz s

  16. avatar
    rebecca aiello

    Joe Bernal….

    “Joe Bernal who was formerly the Head Coach of Harvard University; the US Olympics Coach in both 1984 and 1988, and the US Coach for the Pan American Games in 1991. In all, Joe Bernal has coached six Olympians. Recent Olympians include Ray Carey (’96), Scott Jaffe (’96), and David Berkoff (’88 & ’92). At the 1988 Olympics, David won a gold and a silver medal and was the world record holder in the 100 Backstroke. He is the only swimmer in New England’s swimming history to be an individual event record holder.”

  17. avatar
    rebecca aiello

    Joe Bernal should be on here.

    “Joe Bernal who was formerly the Head Coach of Harvard University; the US Olympics Coach in both 1984 and 1988, and the US Coach for the Pan American Games in 1991. In all, Joe Bernal has coached six Olympians. Recent Olympians include Ray Carey (’96), Scott Jaffe (’96), and David Berkoff (’88 & ’92). At the 1988 Olympics, David won a gold and a silver medal and was the world record holder in the 100 Backstroke. He is the only swimmer in New England’s swimming history to be an individual event record holder.”

  18. Nicki Stanley

    I’m surprised that Mark Spitz didn’t make it

  19. avatar

    you guys need to do your math. mark spitz swam in 1972 olympics….that was 40+ years ago.

  20. avatar
    Mr. Justice

    Jesse Vassallo, Daichi Suzuki and David Berkoff: The lineage of underwater swimming innovators that have forever changed the formula for victory.

    • avatar
      Kirk Nelson

      You’re right. Leaving Berkoff off the list is a travesty. No other single swimmer in the last 30 years has influenced how people swim today more than he did.

  21. Libby Jett

    What about Natalie coughlin, Katie ledecky and missy Franklin.

  22. Jack McClendon

    I really love your writers and your editors . Professional and passionate.

  23. Ric Joline

    UNC Coach Frank Comfort is also missing

  24. Vicki Catlin

    Only five women? We must see to hat when we choose coaches and officers!

  25. Eddie Han

    Not disputing the people already on this list but what about Missy, Glenn Mills, Dr G, Maritza Correia McClendon to name a few…

  26. Brendan Heneghan

    Chris Kamp. Let’s check back in 20 years. We had to at least make the top 50

  27. Kate Dunne

    It’s an incomplete list…. To say the least….There are many who are not on this list but deserve to be….

  28. John Blair

    Unfortunate that Swimming World conspired to create a last 30 year list instead a comprehensive all time list…only 5 women? Really…journalistic integrity used to be important…SW, this just makes you look like a marketing shill.