Well, at least Eddie's still around.
Both Skip Kenney and Jim Richardson, institutions at Stanford and Michigan, have stepped aside on the same day. In addition, the University of Tennessee announced the hiring of Bret Lundgaard as an assistant while Roric Fink has confirmed via Facebook that he will be Carol Capitani's assistant at Texas.
One of the most respected coaches in the world of swimming, Stanford's Goldman Family Director of Men's Swimming, Skip Kenney, 69, announced his retirement today following 33 years at the helm of the Cardinal program.
Kenney will coach the Cardinal through the U.S. Trials, ending July 2. Richardson's will officially retire on June 30th, but like Kenney, is expected to coach through Trials.
"It has been a privilege and honor to serve as the women's
swimming coach at the University of Michigan," Richardson said in a
statement. "Michigan is truly one of the great institutions in the world
and to be a part of the development of young women has been my sole
“Who would have ever have thought it? I grew up in California and in Fresno, went to Long Beach State and Stanford was always the big name.” said Kenney. “We exceeded all levels of expectation. The kind of people you get to work with here, the athletes that come through here. You pinch yourself when you are really here. It's just unbelievable.”
To understand Kenney's impact on the sport, it goes beyond the seven NCAA titles or 31-straight Pac-10/12 titles, the 1086 All-America certificates or 72 NCAA champions. The three-time Olympic coach also produced 20 of his own Olympians, which won a combined 18 medals from 1984 through 2008. But that still doesn't tell the whole story.
“Coach Kenney is one of the iconic figures in college swimming and he has had a profound impact in shaping the lives of hundreds of young men,” said Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby. “Skip has always been a coach that put the team first and in doing so, he has taught lifetime lessons about how to weave the fabric of a high achieving organization. The Stanford Men’s Swimming Program under Coach Kenney’s guidance has established many standards that will never be equaled in the PAC 12 or nationally”
“These athletes are so bright, so dedicated and I don't know how you describe it,” said Kenney. “They are just really, really good people. Most of them have leadership skills, which means they care about their teammates.”
“When I think of swimming, the 10 things that are most important to me, all 10 come from Stanford,” said Olympic Gold medalist Jay Mortenson. “The Olympic gold medal is a good distance behind.”
As former swimmer, Adam Messner noted in a Stanford Magazine feature six years ago, “A generation-spanning community of swimmers and former swimmers would all 'lie down in traffic for him,'”
There are certain traditions that likely will continue-- the passing down of a pair of sweats from the 1967 NCAA championship team, given annually to the teammate with the best team spirit; or the annual run around campus in their Speedos and running shoes; or the gloves of 1993 graduate Chas Morton, for the swimmer with the best leap from dual to championship season.
Kenney was looking up at his wall of NCAA champions, recently and said, “That's why I've been here. It is how much each individual athlete cared and wanted to make their teammate better. You saw it over and over. They would say, let me stay after practice to look at your stroke, let me look under water and look how you're pulling. It went on for years.”
That culture, which Kenney first built when he came to The Farm in 1979, has survived because of his athletes, who routinely come back, most notably during the Pac-12 and NCAA Championships to root on their team first, coach second.
In Ann Arbor, meanwhile, Richardson leaves a legacy of his own. He is one of just five women's coaches (along with Gary Kempf, Frank Comfort, Randy Reese, and Richard Quick) to have won at least fourteen conference titles. He brought fourteen trophies back to Ann Arbor with the Wolverines' best season a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 1995.
"We are grateful for the passion, enthusiasm and dedication that Jim has provided to our women's swimming program over the past 27 years," said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon. "Jim worked hard to mold our young women into some of the finest swimmers in the conference and in the nation. He placed an even higher emphasis on academics and made sure that his swimmers were prepared for the life that followed after competition."
Under Richardson, Michigan has earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America national all-academic recognition every season since it started being awarded in 1992. Sixty-two swimmers were named CSCAA All-Academic or honorable mention and 141 earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Meanwhile, down south, head swimming and diving coach Matt Kredich announced the addition of Bret Lundgaard as an assistant coach for the recently combined men's and women's program.Lungaard joins Tennessee after spending the last three years as an assistant with Army, where he served as recruiting coordinator and also primarily trained freestylers and individual medley swimmers.
"Bret is one of the most impressive young coaches that I've ever encountered," Kredich said. "He's very knowledgeable, he has a great way of communicating with people, and has a proven record of coaching and recruiting effectiveness at the United States Military Academy. He has exemplary recommendations from officials at one of our nation's most rigorous and prestigious institutions."
As the recruiting coordinator, Lundgaard helped the Black Knights land the program's best signing class for the men (2010) and the women (2011) in more than a decade, and both programs enjoyed steady improvement during his stay at West Point. The men finished third of 20 schools in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships this season, while the women finished sixth of 19.
Prior to his post at Army, Lundgaard was the assistant coach for Boulder City (Nev.) High School in 2008-09, helping the team to a fourth-place finish at the state championships. He was also an assistant coach with the Desert Storm Swim Team, a club that has produced Olympic Trial qualifiers.
"We are very fortunate to have someone of Bret's character, work ethic, and ability at the University of Tennessee," Kredich said. "He's going to play a key role in establishing our men's and women's teams among the premiere swimming and diving programs in the country."
A native of Las Vegas, Lundgaard was a collegiate swimmer at Washington from 2005-2008 and was voted team captain his junior and senior seasons. He earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors all four years of his career and also qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-yard butterfly.
He earned bachelor's degrees at Washington in communications and marketing.
Lungaard is Kredich's first hire since being named head of the combined men's and women's swimming and diving program in April. He had spent the previous seven years as the women's head coach, leading the Lady Vols to a seventh-place NCAA finish last season.
Roric Fink just finished his second season as the associate head coach at Missouri. He now takes the spot of Jim Henry who had served as assistant coach on Kim Brackin's staff at Texas. He came to Mizzou after assisting at the University of Arizona since 2003, while also building one of the nation's elite aquatics clubs, Ford Aquatics in Tucson, Ariz., for several years prior to that..
Fink has played a huge role in developing NCAA championship talent over his career. Lacey Nymeyer, Dave Rollins, Tyler DeBerry and Marcus Titus can each trace their careers through his Ford Aquatics program before going on to win NCAA Championships at Arizona. Fink's club had won the USA Swimming National Championships, and the Men's Team Championship at the Western Zone Sectional in past seasons.
Prior to his time in Tucson, Fink worked with the Phoenix Swim Club from 1995-2000, while also assisting with the U.S. National Team. He worked with athletes such as Jeff Rouse and Gary Hall Jr., who represented Team USA in the 1996 Olympic Games as well as Klete Keller who swam for Team USA in 2000 in Sydney.
His extensive international experience continued in 2010 when he coached Amanda Beard, helping her qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships and the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, China. Fink has also been on several USA Swimming coaching staffs including the 2008 National Junior Team and the 2010 NSCA All-Star Team. In 2006 Fink represented Mexico as a member of their coaching staff at the Short Course World Championships.
Fink is a 1986 graduate of Whitworth College. He earned his masters degree in Business Administration in 2000.