Scott Fowler

Swim coach David Marsh leaving Charlotte for West Coast, college job

After coaching for a decade in Charlotte, swim coach David Marsh has accepted the head-coaching job at the University of California at San Diego.
After coaching for a decade in Charlotte, swim coach David Marsh has accepted the head-coaching job at the University of California at San Diego. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

After parting ways with SwimMAC Carolina in May, well-known swim coach David Marsh has accepted a new job as head swim coach at the University of California at San Diego.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Marsh said Tuesday in a phone interview. “Our family will continue to keep a home in Charlotte -- we still have two children going to college in North Carolina -- but I’m excited about all that the UCSD program has to offer.”

Marsh, 59, was the highest-profile coach SwimMAC Carolina ever employed. Starting in 2007, he worked at the Charlotte club for a decade while achieving unprecedented success for the area in terms of sheer numbers of Olympic swimmers produced. In 2016, SwimMAC’s Team Elite placed a record six American swimmers into the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and Marsh himself was named head coach of the U.S. women’s Olympic swim team.

However, the relationship between Marsh and SwimMAC soured over the past few years over reasons that have not been fully disclosed. The two agreed to separate mutually -- and immediately -- in May and issued a vague joint statement.

Marsh said Team Elite -- a squad of post-graduate swimmers with Olympic aspirations -- won’t leave Charlotte but instead will now have two bases. One will continue to be hosted in Charlotte at Queens University and that Team Elite program will likely get a new head coach, Marsh said. That squad will then be linked with “Team Elite West,” in San Diego, which Marsh will supervise. Swimmers will occasionally travel back and forth between the two bases.

A number of the current Team Elite members in Charlotte will likely follow Marsh to San Diego, the coach said, including several Israeli swimmers he is now coaching. Those swimmers and Marsh’s new collegiate swimmers will do their training not only at 50-meter pools there -- UCSD is known for excellent facilities and its location in one of America’s prettiest cities -- but also occasionally in the Pacific Ocean.

UC at San Diego is a Division II swimming program and is mostly populated with non-scholarship swimmers. While it generally competes well at the Division II level -- the men finished 19th in the NCAA Division II championships last year and the women were 16th. This will not be nearly as high-profile of a collegiate coaching experience than Marsh had in a previous stint at Auburn, where he won 12 NCAA Division I national titles. Marsh said his recruiting will mostly be limited to the state of California.

But Marsh said the success that he has seen at Queens -- the best Division II swimming program in the nation -- made him realize that coaching at the Division II level could work for him as well.

Marsh, who is currently in Indianapolis coaching at the 2017 U.S. Nationals, said he has an official start date of July 15 for his new job in San Diego. He and his wife Kristin plan to keep a home in uptown Charlotte. Their oldest daughter, Alyssa Marsh, swims at Duke and will be a team captain as a sophomore this season. Their son, Aaron Marsh, will be a junior at Queens in the fall and runs on the cross country team. Their youngest child, Maddie, is in high school and will accompany her parents to San Diego.

“We have significant roots in North Carolina,” Marsh said, “and some of that will not change. But the move to California is the best thing for me at this time, and I’m very excited about what we can do in San Diego.”

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