USC Swimming Begins Energetic Era With Jeremy Kipp Taking Reins from Salo, Kase

USC's Marta Ciesla (left) and Laticia Transom. Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

The new era has begun for the USC swimming and diving program.

Iconic coach Dave Salo has retired and distance associate coach Catherine Kase, the U.S. open water coach, has also moved on. Jeremy Kipp was named the head coach this week, and he takes over a program in transition.

A storied program that has seen Olympic gold medalists like Rebecca Soni, Katinka Hosszu and Kaitlin Sandeno in recent years lead the women’s program, the Trojans are looking to continue to build back to being a top five program in the country.

Kipp turned the Northwestern program around in just two years, coaching several NCAA qualifiers and putting the Wildcats on the map in swimming after spending three seasons at Boise State.

He brings that energy and ability to USC’s campus and will look to fuse the old with the new. Kipp knows the Trojan tradition, having been an assistant under Salo before moving to Boise.

After a season knowing Salo was retiring, then dealing with the coronavirus ending the season prematurely, the current Trojans finally have some closure about what is going to happen moving forward.

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Marta Ciesla. Photo Courtesy: USC Athletics

“I feel a newfound sense of hope and passion for swimming under Kipp,” Marta Ciesla told Swimming World. “He speaks with a lot of confidence and I can tell by his energy he cares so much already about this program. He seems like a perfect match.”

Kase is leaving as well, leaving a distance void.

“I am leaving purely for my husband’s business — he had recently started his own and they decided it would be best to relocate in Boise,” Kase told Swimming World.  “Certainly a surprise in the swimming world but nevertheless a great opportunity for my family. We planned on moving at the end of the summer after the season and the Olympics but sadly they were postponed and life changed mid March. It’s been so rewarding to work with the administration, great student athletes and staff over the past 12 years and have had the opportunities to coach many great people. I know I’m going to miss it, but will make this a positive.”

Ciesla leads a strong group coming back, despite the graduation of NCAA champion Louise Hansson.

Laticia Transom won the Pac-12 title in the 200 free. Isa Odgers, Jemma Schlicht, Maggie Aroesty and Freshman Diver of the Year Nike Agunbiade return to give the women’s team a strong core.

Along with Hansson and Tatum Wade, the Trojans were poised for a stellar finish at the NCAA Championships before they were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On paper, the Trojans were seeded to finish 8th at NCAAs.

“Dave’s last season was bittersweet. He has so much faith in us and I really think NCAAs was going to be special He taught us so many lessons I’ll definitely take them on my journey into my last year.”

The USC swimming men’s team also returns some strong swimmers, but Kipp will have more building to do to return the men’s program to its championship form. The program has won nine NCAA titles — led by the likes of John Naber, Lenny Krayzelburg, Bruce Furniss, Murray Rose and Buster Crabbe in year’s past, but last won the Pac-12 Conference title in 2015. This season, the Trojan men only qualified two men individually to NCAAs, but both guys were sophomores, as Alexei Sancov and Victor Johansson will be back next season.

It is never easy to take over for someone as respected as Salo, but Kipp, who worked alongside Salo knows what that challenge is all about.

This is the dawn of the revitalized USC swimming program, and the future still looks bright.

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