U.S. Coach of the Year: Gregg Troy Has Spun Magic in Development of Caeleb Dressel
29 December 2019
Gregg Troy (U.S. Coach of the Year)
The selection of United States Coach of the Year is a delicate exercise and is dependent on the lens used for the selection. Should the coach of the most dominant athlete receive the award? Or, should the honor go to the coach who guided the most successful group of high performers? There is no simple answer, and varied opinions are very much accepted.
But with the exploits of Caeleb Dressel from the World Championships, along with the success of the Cali Condors in the inaugural season of the International Swimming League, Swimming World has chosen Gregg Troy for Coach of the Year in 2019. Troy earned the accolade in a tight battle that also featured deep consideration for Ray Looze and Greg Meehan. Yet, when it came time to make the selection, Troy’s guidance of Dressel stood out.
The 69-year-old Troy is no stranger to coaching awards, having amassed his share during a career defined by significant success overseeing the programs of the University of Florida and Gator Swim Club. He has been an NCAA, ASCA and USA Swimming Coach of the Year, and has guided Team USA into Olympic waters. This past year, his efforts were most noteworthy for generating a blueprint that led Dressel to an eight-medal haul at the World Champs, including six gold medals.
The success found by Dressel since he started working under Troy’s direction as a University of Florida freshman is off the charts. Last summer, however, brought the greatest achievements as Dressel won four individual titles at Worlds, the 100 butterfly captured in world-record time. He also became the fastest man in history in textile in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, and Dressel will be among the most-watched athletes at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“He is a great coach,” Dressel has said of Troy. “He works hard, looks for different things to focus on. He brings out the best in his athletes.”
While Troy is best known for the development of his athletes into better swimmers, some racing at the top level of the sport and contending for Olympic medals, his role goes beyond simply a man designing sets and delivering directions from the deck. Additionally, Troy serves as a confidant for his swimmers and is equally concerned with how his troops grow as individuals. Life goes on beyond the pool.
“The long-lasting effect you have on people you communicate and deal with is really satisfying,” he said. “Helping people be successful at the highest level for them. Teaching people skills through their life and to give back to society is what makes people successful.”
Troy is not just responsible for Dressel’s exploits, but also is in charge of the careers of Great Britain’s Mark Szaranek and Poland’s Jan Switkowski, who boast Olympic hopes for 2020. Of course, he is also known for mentoring Ryan Lochte to vast success on the world stage, with Lochte chasing his fifth Olympic bid next summer.
The recently completed ISL season featured Troy as the head coach of the Cali Condors, who advanced to the grand finale in Las Vegas and were in contention for the team title until late on the second day of the championship competition. While eventual champion Energy Standard and runnerup London Roar had greater talent throughout their rosters, Troy worked his lineups superbly to keep the Condors within striking distance.
Beyond preparing Dressel to manage a heavy schedule in Tokyo, Troy must prepare his biggest charge for the expectations that will be thrust upon his shoulders. Already, Dressel is being mentioned as a contender to win seven or eight medals in Tokyo, his face sure to be splashed on many magazine covers. Due to Dressel’s multi-medal potential, comparisons to Michael Phelps have been made. The pressure will be unique, and Troy is confident that Dressel’s experience from the World Champs will suit him well.
“He’s dealt with the pressure of being the star,” Troy said. “Now, I think, he’s kind of the complete package.”
With Troy having a major influence over that status.
Honorable Mention (Alphabetical Order)
The longtime head man at the University of Georgia, Jack Bauerle continues to churn out championship contenders on the global level. A finalist for Coach of the Year at the Golden Goggles, Bauerle served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the World Championships. Six of Bauerle’s athletes, including Chase Kalisz, Hali Flickinger, Olivia Smoliga, Melanie Margalis and Jay Litherland, earned spots in Gwangju and combined for 10 medals.
Set to guide the United States men’s squad at next year’s Olympic Games, Dave Durden led the University of California-Berkeley to the NCAA men’s team crown, the Golden Bears’ dominant showing ending Texas’ four-year stranglehold on the championship. Durden then coached the USA men at the World Championships, with five of his athletes occupying spots on the roster.
Whether overseeing athletes at the collegiate level or competing in international circles, Ray Looze produced a sterling year. His Indiana University squads each captured Big Ten Conference titles, with the men following up with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Looze was also an assistant for Team USA at the World Championships, where his swimmers shined, headlined by Lilly King and her trio of gold medals. As the Olympic year beckons, Looze boasts an impressive roster of hopefuls for the Tokyo Games, including Blake Pieroni and Zach Apple.
The United States women’s coach for next year’s Olympic Games, Greg Meehan enjoyed a sterling year by first leading Stanford to a third consecutive NCAA women’s team title. He then served as the Team USA women’s coach at the World Championships where his pupil Simone Manuel won gold in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, and where Katie Ledecky, in the face of illness, took gold in the 800 freestyle. Meehan also coached World Champs team members Katie Drabot, who won bronze in the 200 butterfly, and Ella Eastin and Brooke Forde.
Once the coach of the legendary Jenny Thompson, Mike Parratto was the man behind the breakout success of Regan Smith at the World Championships. The head coach of the Riptide Swim Team in Minnesota, Parratto guided Smith to a world record and gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the World Champs, and then watched his prized pupil lead off the United States’ 400 medley relay in a world record for the 100 backstroke, with the relay also establishing a global standard. For his work, Parratto was named Coach of the Year by the American Swim Coaches Association and at the Golden Goggles Awards.