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London 2012: Teri McKeever, Head Coach, USA Women's Swimming


It's no secret that Cal hosts some of the best student-athletes and coaches in the world. This summer, we profile some of the Cal men and women representing their home countries at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Today, we look at Teri McKeever, USA Women's Swimming head coach.

Jeff Tedford, Teri McKeever, Mike Montgomery at 2009 Coaches Tour in SJ

Teri McKeever (center) with Coaches Jeff Tedford (left) and Mike Montgomery (right) on the 2009 Coaches Tour in San Jose, California.

Teri McKeever graduated from USC in 1983, after garnering All-American Honors in 1980 and 1981. While working on her masters in athletic administration, McKeever served as assistant coach for the Trojans. McKeever saw the light and joined Cal soon after, and has earned a reputation as one of the premier swimming coaches in the United States.

Cal's Teri McKeever after the Bears captured the 2012 Pac-12 Championship (via pac12conf)

From McKeever's 20 Questions interview with USA Swimming in 2011:

2. How was this year’s NCAA title different from the one in 2009?

Teri: I think this was different in the sense that we were on people’s radar. I don’t think we were anyone’s favorite, but walking into the meet as others are watching is something different. In ’09, there weren’t really any expectations. It was this giddy, "Oh my gosh, look what’s happening!" mentality. This time, the best word I can think of is it was more businesslike in that we thought we could possibly be in the mix. Looking at what our strengths were, we felt good, especially looking at our relays. We had some good momentum coming off the PAC 10 season. We had a great battle with Stanford at the PAC 10 Championship, and felt like we had even better swims in us, so the feeling was, "Let’s see what happens at NCAAs."

3. Are you comfortable with all the attention you are getting for being a female head coach for the U.S. women, or should it just be that you are the coach, regardless of gender?
Teri: I think there is a feeling that I am the best coach for the job who happens to be female. But being a female and this being the first time a female has been head coach, I do feel a responsibility that this won’t be as much of a story and focus the next time a women is head U.S. coach. Now we need to get more and more women these staff positions on teams like that, and eventually the story will be about how the entire U.S. Olympic women’s swim team coaching staff is female. That’s the next milestone. Hopefully, being in this position shows the younger female coaches, or those just getting into the profession, that you can achieve success at the highest level.

4. You run this program that is seen as outside the box. Has the success come because you don’t doubt what you are doing?
Teri: It might be actually the opposite. I think I have hesitated at times. Its’ a little scary at times, you know. Ultimately, you make a decision based on whatever things you are doing, and you have confidence in what you are doing. And what I am confident about is trying new things. To be honest, I am confident I am going to make a mistake – or mistakes, let’s make that plural – but I am also confident I will stumble onto something awesome at the same time. It’s always hard trying something different, because there is that real possibility you will fail. But that’s where the improvement and learning comes from. I really believe that in failure and struggle comes the greatest opportunity for learning and growth.

Under McKeever, Cal has finished in the top-10 at the NCAA Championships fifteen consecutive times, winning three of the last four national titles. McKeever herself has been named Pac-12/Pac-10 Coach of the Year five times. A coach who has tutored an extensive list of Olympians (including names such as Natalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer), McKeever was the first woman coach on the U.S. Olympic Swimming team. After a successful stint as assistant coach for the U.S. Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she now leads the hopes of the U.S. in London.

Teri McKeever's speech at the Pac-12 Network's Ground Breaking Ceremony (via CalBearBlog)

From McKeever's profile:

Regarded as one of the best swimming mentors in the United States, Teri McKeever recently completed her 20th year as head coach of the University of California's women's swimming and diving program. The 2011-12 season featured arguably the best year in the program's history and ended with Cal's third NCAA team championship in four years.

In March, her Golden Bears won their second consecutive NCAA team title one month after they won the inaugural Pac-12 team championship. McKeever, who led Cal to NCAA titles in 2009 and 2011, claimed the Coach of the Meet award for the third time after emerging triumphant at this year's national meet, in which Cal won a school-record seven individual/relay crowns. In April, the conference named her its Pac-12 Coach of the Year, which marked McKeever's fifth conference award (including awards in 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2011). She led her Bears to nine individual/relay titles en route to the overall Pac-12 championship.

One of the top coaches of women's swimming in the United States, McKeever was named the head coach of the U.S. women's team for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in December of 2010. She also served as the head coach of the U.S. women at the FINA Short-Course World Championships later that month.