Auburn replacing its swimming and diving head coach

AUBURN, Alabama–Auburn will be looking for a new head coach for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. On Monday the university’s director of athletics, Allen Greene, announced a change in leadership with Gary Taylor out as head coach.

Taylor was hired on April 29, 2018 to replace Brett Hawke, a former star swimmer and Olympian for the Tigers who was fired after having success, but not at the levels of the previous head coaches.

“Auburn is appreciative to Gary for his service to the Auburn swimming and diving program,” Greene said, noting that the coach and AU have “mutually agreed to part ways” following one of the worst seasons in Auburn swimming history. Both the men and women, traditional national powers in the sport, struggled at the Southeastern Conference Championship meets. Neither scored a point at the 2021 NCAA Championships and recruiting has not been up to the program’s normal standards.

“We wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” said Greene, who announced that a “national search” will begin immediately. Taylor was an assistant coach at North Carolina State prior to being named head coach of the Tigers.

Gary Taylor is out as Auburn’s coach. (Photo: Inside the Auburn Tigers/AUTigers.com, 247Sports)

Auburn finished ninth at the 2021 SEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, the worst showing in program history. The previous low finish was seventh in 1989.  The men’s team finished eighth at the conference meet. As was the case with the women’s team, Auburn had no individual SEC champions nor relay winners in the men’s meet.

The Auburn men have won 18 SEC Championship team titles, including 16 in a row from 1997-2012. 

The men’s team has won eight national championships, the most of any Auburn team. Coach David Marsh’s men’s squad won the university’s first official NCAA team title in 1997 at Minneapolis. The Tigers won more national team titles in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The women’s team has won five national championships with the first one in 2002 followed by first place finishes in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Also with Marsh as head coach, the 2002 title was the first national championship for an Auburn women’s team in any sport. The Tigers won the Southeastern Conference women’s team championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Marsh’s teams were also consistently honored for their academic successes and their community service when he was in charge of the program.

In addition to Marsh the Auburn swimming and diving teams have been led by some of the top teachers in the sport, including Olympic coaches Eddie Reese and Richard Quick. The Tigers have sent numerous swimmers to the Olympics, including Rowdy Gaines, one of the top performers in American men’s swimming history, and women’s superstar Kirsty Coventry. Both Olympic champions are part of a group of 30 Auburn swimmers and divers who have competed on Olympic teams starting in 1976. The group has combined to win 13 Olympic medals.

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For the women’s team Maggie Bowen is the leader with nine NCAA championship victories in individual and relay events with Olympic gold medal winner and former world record holder Coventry next with seven along with Margaret Hoelzer. Former world record holder and Olympic gold medal winner Cesar Cielo won 10 NCAA titles as an individual and on Auburn relays, the top total for the men’s program ahead of Hawke’s nine, eight for Gaines and seven for Aaron Ciarla.

This is the second change in head coaches Greene has made during Auburn’s spring semester. Previously, he replaced women’s basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and hired Johnnie Harris for that role.