By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
Photos courtesy Jim Burgess, UF Communications
Even though the team has yet to be chosen and the 2012 Olympic Games are still weeks away, Gregg Troy, head coach of the U.S. men’s team this summer in London, already knows what he has heading into Omaha next week.
With names like Phelps, Lochte, Grevers and Hansen, as well as others, who have been staples on past Olympic and World Championship teams, he knows he has the makings of a very strong nucleus – provided the unimaginable doesn’t happen during the frenzied competition at Trials.
And not only does he know what he has, he also knows how to get the best results. It’s something he has been doing for years with Lochte, largely regarded as the best swimmer in the world.
“I expect to have a carryover from the 2008 Olympic team, which means having a strong combination of leadership and experience to rely on,” said Troy, the head coach of the Florida Gator swim and diving program since 1999.
“With a team of stars like the U.S. Olympic Team will be, I just need to be aware of what they’re doing and make sure all the logistical stuff and details are taken care of.”
While this post leading the U.S. men into battle against the rest of the world is his first head coaching role for a U.S. Olympic team, Troy’s resume is full of international experience. Approaching his fifth Olympic coaching appointment (third with the United States), the coaching veteran made his Olympic debut in 1988 as an assistant coach with Guam in Seoul, South Korea, before becoming head coach of the Thailand National Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
He was on deck in Melbourne in 2007 as an assistant with the U.S. Men’s World Championships Team and served as the head coach at the World Championships in 2001. He also served as head coach of the U.S. Team for the Pan American Games in 1999 and 1995, and as an assistant for the U.S. women at the 2004 FINA World Short Course Championships and 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. His accomplishments on the international level led him to being named the 1997 U.S. Olympic & United States Swimming Development Coach of the Year. The award is one of several that Troy has received from the U.S. Swimming Coaches' Achievement program.
His most recent stint was as an assistant for the U.S men at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where he helped coach the United States to 11 world records and 31 medals, accounting for nearly one-third of the total U.S. medals won. As the head coach of the U.S. men this summer, Troy joins former Gator track and field coach Jimmy Carnes (1980) as the only two head coaches in school history to be the head coach of a U.S. Olympic National Team.
Because of the core of swimmers most likely returning to this year’s team, Troy said he is anticipating an equally strong, balanced group heading to London.
“We’re going to have a good team, no doubt about that, but the great thing about this year’s group (of men and women) is that because of post-graduate opportunities, we’ve created an older, more experienced team, which is important against international competition” said Troy, the 2010 USA Swimming Coach of the Year, 2010 ASCA Coach of the Year, 2010 NCAA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year and 2010 SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year.
“There will be some hotly contested races – we’re counting on that – and that should bring out the best in all of the swimmers. That’s what you want in a meet preceding the Olympics.”
Despite his international and collegiate coaching accomplishments, Troy is most widely known for his work with Lochte.
At the 2010 Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships, Troy coached Lochte to a meet-high six gold medals, giving Lochte Male Swimmer of the Meet honors at the year’s biggest international meet. At the 2008 Olympics, Lochte won two gold medals and two bronze medals. He broke fellow American Aaron Peirsol’s two-year winning streak in the 200-meter back with a world-record performance at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, winning his first individual long-course world title.
At the 2006 FINA Short Course World Championships, he won five medals (three gold, one silver and one bronze) and set four world records just 10 days after competing at the NCAA Championships. In 2004, Lochte captured a gold medal at the Athens Olympics in the 800 freestyle relay and also won a silver in the 200 individual medley.
“What makes Ryan so good is that he works so hard all the time, and I think, with him and Michael (Phelps) and the other veterans, that will rub off on everyone else, especially the younger swimmers who make the team,” Troy said. “The key to working with an accomplished group of swimmers like that assembled for an Olympics is to make sure the athletes are prepared and comfortable, and that there is a cohesiveness among the individuals. That helps them accomplish individual as well as team goals.”
Overall for Troy, he said he’s just focused on making sure he and the members of the still-to-be-determined men’s team represent the United States in the fashion to which USA Swimming and the country have come to expect.
“This is a very unique honor, and it’s something I don’t take lightly and will make sure the guys don’t take lightly,” Troy said. “I expect us to do very well in London, and the anticipation of how good it’s going to be is very exciting.
“As for Trials, I am particularly looking forward to seeing the breakthrough performances of some of the younger swimmers. Trials can be very unpredictable, which can be nerve-wracking for the swimmers expected to make the team but exciting for the younger swimmers. It truly brings out the best in everyone.”