Yuri Suguiyama Takes Head Coaching Job at Wisconsin

yuri suguiyama
Photo Courtesy: ISIPhotos.com

Yuri Suguiyama will become the next head swimming coach at the University of Wisconsin. He replaces Whitney Hite, who departed at the conclusion of the NCAA championships after seven years with the program. Suguiyama confirmed to Swimming World Tuesday afternoon that he will be headed to Madison. The University confirmed the hire with a press release a few hours later.

Suguiyama has been the assistant coach for the Cal men’s program under Dave Durden since the fall of 2012, and he was elevated to associate head coach in 2016. He has been primarily responsible for coaching mid-distance and distance-based athletes. The most notable swimmer he has coached, however, came before his Cal days. He coached Katie Ledecky to Olympic gold in the 800 free as a 15-year-old during his days with the Nation’s Capital Swim Club.

Suguiyama has been a strong candidate for head coaching openings in recent years, and he was believed to be a finalist for multiple high-profile openings last season. Now, after six seasons with the Golden Bears, he’s making the leap to running his own program.

The Badger men did not score at the NCAA championships last season, while the team’s women finished 17th with 78 points. Sophomore Beata Nelson was Wisconsin’s ace, as she finished second in the 100 back, third in the 200 back and sixth in the 200 IM.

Read a full press release from Wisconsin below:

The Wisconsin swimming and diving program is under new leadership.

Having established himself as one of college swimming’s top young coaches during a decorated run as an assistant, Yuri Suguiyama was tabbed Tuesday to become the Badgers’ new head coach.

“We’re excited to bring Yuri to Madison,” UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “His track record as a coach speaks for itself, but he will also bring great energy to our program. His passion for the sport and the athletes he’s coaching will only make us better.”

Suguiyama, 35, comes to Madison after spending six years as associate head coach of the men’s program at Cal, where he helped the Golden Bears to first- or second-place NCAA finishes in each of his seasons in Berkeley. That run included Cal’s national title in 2014, a season in which Suguiyama was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.

“I am both excited and humbled to join the University of Wisconsin as the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs,” Suguiyama said. “It has been a dream of mine to lead a program, and there’s no better place to do so than at a school that has so much to offer, like Wisconsin.

“I want to thank Coach Alvarez and senior associate athletic director Marija Pientka for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to building upon the program’s tradition by getting to know our current team, putting together an awesome staff and recruiting student-athletes of high character who are good fits for Wisconsin both academically and athletically. I can’t wait to get started.”

Including the 2018 team title, Suguiyama was part of three Pac-12 Conference championships at Cal and, at one point, helped the Bears put together a run of 28 consecutive dual meet wins.

In addition to his work with the Bears, Suguiyama has built an impressive international coaching resume. He was named special assistant to the national team director for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and also served as an assistant coach for the American squads at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and 2015 World University Games.

Following his Olympic assignment, Suguiyama served as men’s head coach for Team USA at the 2016 FINA Short Course World Championships.

Suguiyama’s time at Cal was preceded by a six-year run as coach of Nation’s Capital Swim Club in Washington, D.C., where he mentored then 15-year-old Olympic champion Katie Ledecky, who claimed gold in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympics in London. She went on to win four more golds at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Himself a standout swimmer for Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Suguiyama went on to compete collegiately at North Carolina, where he finished as the Tar Heels’ record-holder in the 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle. He earned first-team All-America honors as a senior, in addition to being a three-year All-ACC selection.

Suguiyama graduated from North Carolina in 2004 with degrees in political science and economics.

4 comments

  1. avatar
    Frank Comfort

    Congratulations Yuri!….a person who always achieves at the highest level. He will make Wisconsin so much better. Their men & women will love training & being guided by him.

  2. Mark Hesse

    Congratulations Yuri

  3. Ward Foley

    Outstanding. Good luck Yuri