Yuri Suguiyama, coach of gold medalist Katie Ledecky, accepted a position at the University of California as an assistant coach of the men’s swimming team. Head coach David Durden announced the news on Wednesday.
“It’s an honor to join the Cal men’s swimming program with an opportunity to contribute to the championship culture Dave Durden has created in Berkeley,” said Suguiyama in a press release posted on Cal’s website. “I’m excited to begin working with the student-athletes and becoming a member of this great university and its local communities.”
Suguiyama, 30, gained national recognition this past summer for his work with 15-year-old Katie Ledecky, who won the women’s 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics. He has worked for Nation’s Capital Swim Club for the past six years, most recently as the head coach at the Georgetown Prep training site.
“This has been a very difficult decision, requiring me to choose between my dream of coaching at the collegiate level and leaving behind a successful program and swimmers that I’ve grown up with,” stated Suguiyama in a press release sent to the Post by NCAP. “I want to thank all the swimmers, families and colleagues who have helped make our program as rewarding as it has been successful. I’m confident that our swimmers will continue to achieve great success in the years ahead.”
Suguiyama swam for NCAP as an age group swimmer before competing for the University of North Carolina where he was a standout varsity member including an All-American designation his senior year. He was named the Potomac Valley Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year for the 2011-2012 season — his second time winning the award.
“We approached this opportunity looking for ways to enhance and improve our program,” said Durden in the press release. “As we moved through the month of September, it became more and more evident that Yuri is the coach to help us do just that. His intellect, his organization, and the culture he promotes within his environment are the very aspects we value within our Cal swimming family. We happily welcome him to the pool deck, and I look forward to working side by side with such a great coach and great person.”
Suguiyama has been one of the hottest names talked about this summer following Ledecky’s performances at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she earned her spot on the Olympic team.
“Though I am very disappointed and sad that Yuri is leaving the NCAP program, I recognize that it has been a dream of his to coach at the collegiate level and I understand that the opportunity to work with the defending NCAA championship program at Cal with an outstanding head coach in Dave Durden was just too great an opportunity for him to pass up at this time,” said Katie Ledecky in a statement to NCAP. “I owe Yuri an incredible amount of gratitude. Yuri is a tremendous coach and an even better person, and my teammates, family and I wish him the very best and hope that he achieves all of the goals he has set for himself in his coaching career.”
Along with Ledecky, Suguiyama coached Carsten Vissering, the 2012 junior national champion in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke. He was named as one of the coaches of the U.S. junior national team’s delegation to the 2012 junior pan pacific championships this past summer.
Suguiyama will replace Greg Meehan, who left Cal to take the helm as the head coach of the Stanford women’s team.
The Golden Bears begin their 2012-2013 season on Oct. 10 against Pacific. Cal enters the season as the two-time defending NCAA men’s champions after successfully defending their title last March.
At the time of publication, there has been no decision regarding who will replace Suguiyama as the head coach at the Georgetown Prep site, according to NCAP’s CEO Tom Ugast.