Cowboys Win First WAC Dual of the Season
A Record 13 UW Swimmers Competed in the U.S. Open Last Week
The Cowboys Will Join The Conference Beginning In The 2013-14 Season
Kalms And Hartigan Earn Most Outstanding Athlete Awards
Senior LeValley Leads Team With 3.87 GPA And Four-Consecutive Honor
An interview with UW head coach Tom Johnson previewing the 2011-12 swimming and diving season.
Head swimming and diving coach Tom Johnson interviews senior captains Lesley Young and David Schmitt prior to the 2011 MWC Championships
Pictures from Wyoming's 2009-10 Swimming and Diving Season
Wyoming swimming has been a part of Tom Johnson's life for two decades. Johnson swam at the University of Wyoming for four years, he spent one season as an assistant coach, and for the past 15 years has been head coach.
In the past 15 seasons at the helm of the Wyoming swimming and diving program, Johnson has led the Cowboys and Cowgirls to their highest conference finishes ever and has been named conference coach of the year four times. At UW, he has seen 30 individual Mountain West Champions, four individual Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Champions, three Honorable Mention All-Americans and 11 student-athletes earn Academic All-America honors. He also coached the Cowgirls first back-to-back Honorable Mention All-American in Kelsey Conci. Possibly his greatest achievement came in 2004 when he helped Scott Usher reach the 2004 Olympic Games.
In 2012-13, Johnson led the Cowboys to a second place finish at the MPSF Championships, as Wyoming was only nine and a half points behind conference champion UNLV. He also led the women's team to a third-place finish at the MW Championships, as the Cowgirls finished in the top-four for the seventh consecutive season. Johnson finished the season with impressive records recording an 8-1 overall record on the men's side and a 6-1 overall record on the women's side. Johnson mentored Honorable Mention All-American Adam Kalms, who was the first Cowboy swimmer to earn Honorable Mention All-America honors since Scott Usher in 2004. Kalms helped Wyoming to one team point to conclude the NCAA Championships in 32nd place.
During the 2011-12 season, Johnson led his teams in two different conferences the MW and MPSF. The Cowboys finished the 2011-12 season with a 4-3 overall dual record. In their first season in the MPSF, the Cowboys finished the championship in third place with four individual championships and one relay championship. In his team's first year of competition in the MPSF, Johnson was voted by his peers as the Coach of the Year in the conference. He also coached 10 individuals to All-MPSF honorees and five relay teams. Also in 2012, senior swimmer Brandon Fischer became the first Cowboys swimmer to earn a place at the NCAA Championships since Usher in 2005. On the women's side, he led the Cowgirls to a 6-3 overall dual record and 3-1 in the MW.
The Cowgirls finished the MW Championships in fourth place with two individual champions and one relay championship. Following the championships, eight individual Cowgirls and three relay squads earned All-MW honors. Cowgirl Conci earned her second-consecutive spot at the NCAA Championships. She became the first-ever Cowgirl to earn back-to-back Honorable Mention All-America honors after placing ninth in the 100 backstroke.
In 2010-11, Johnson led the Cowboys and Cowgirls to third-place finishes at the Mountain West Championships, while also helping to coach two individuals to NCAA Championship berths. The 2010-11 Cowgirls finished the season in third place at the conference championships after posting an 11-4 dual record with a 5-3 record in the MW. At the MW Championships the Cowgirls claimed three individual championships and one relay title. Overall nine Cowgirls and three relay teams earned All-MW awards. Lesley Young won two MW Championships in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, while Kelsey Conci picked up the other win for UW in the 100 backstroke. The Cowgirl 200 medley relay team also won a MW Championship setting a new championship record time in the process. Conci also qualified for the NCAA Championships swimming an NCAA `A' cut time in the 100 back portion of the 400 medley relay. At the NCAA Championships, Conci, swam her way into the `B' final and placed second in her final heat giving her 10th place overall. Her 10th-place finish earned her Honorable Mention All-America honors. She was the first Cowgirl since Norma Hughes in 1992 to earn Honorable Mention All-America honors. The Cowboys also placed third at the 2011 MW Championships, claiming two individual championships. The Cowboys posted a 6-5 overall dual record and a 2-3 MW record during the regular season. The Cowboys had an excellent showing at the 2011 MW Championships with eight student-athletes earning All-MW honors. At the conference championships diver Mark Murdock won two individual championships on the 3-meter springboard and platform. Following that performance Murdock went on to place in the top eight on the platform at the NCAA Zone `E' championships to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. Murdock placed 12th on the platform earning Honorable Mention All-America honors.
The 2009-10 season was one of Johnson's best years of coaching as he coached the Cowgirls to runner-up at the 2010 MWC Championships and their best dual record ever at 14-1 and 7-1 in the conference. The Cowgirls had 15 individual All-MWC performers, as well as two individual MWC champions. Johnson also saw two of his Cowgirls compete at the 2010 NCAA Championships. The Cowboys also competed well during the 2009-10 season for Johnson. The 'Pokes posed a 7-3 overall dual record and a 3-2 record in the MWC. The Cowboys had nine individual First Team All-MWC performers. Also Cowboy Mark Murdock won the platform diving event at the MWC Championships with a new school and MWC record.
The 2008-09 season started with great momentum from the previous season. At the 2009 MWC Championships the Cowboys matched their highest finish ever in third, while the Cowgirls also placed third for their highest finish ever. Wyoming won three individual championships, broke 16 school records, had 50 performances that rank in the top-five in school history, and had 21 athletes earn all-conference. UW had great success at the conference meet, but they also posted great times and strong records in the regular season. The Cowboys finished the regular season with an overall record of 12-1, while the Cowgirls were 12-4. The Pokes' season did not go unnoticed as they received votes in the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, and finished the season ranked 34th in the nation. In dual meets, the Cowgirls have posted a record of 28-5 over the past three seasons, and have a home pool record of 13-2. The men have also enjoyed success the past three seasons and are 18-10 overall during the same three seasons.
One of Johnson's proudest coaching moments came during the summer of 2004. Following his junior season, Wyoming's Scott Usher reached the apex of the swimming world by earning a spot on the coveted United States Olympic Team. Johnson was right by Usher's side as he wore the bucking horse swim cap and raced to a second-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke at the US Olympic Team Trials on national television.
In support of Johnson and Usher, the Cowboy Joe Club, along with a local businesses, raised enough money to send Johnson to the Olympic Games where he watched Usher reach the finals of the 200-meter breaststroke and swim to a seventh-place finish in the world. In all, Johnson helped guide Usher to four First Team All-America honors, five overall All-America honors and six MWC Championships during his career at UW. Johnson's coaching philosophy emphasizes maximizing the talent and the potential of our student athletes both academically and athletically.
"We want to maximize their potential athletically to swim at the highest levels of our sport, academically achieving goals allowing them to graduate."
The success Wyoming has had in the pool has been matched in the classroom. In fact, over the past five years, 13 UW swimmers and divers have earned Academic All-District VII honors from Capital One and CoSIDA. Recently, student-athletes Veronica Popovici and Trevor LeValley were named to the Capital One Academic All-District Seven At-Large teams, announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Popovici and LeValley were among 22 student-athletes (11 women and 11 men) selected to the District 7 At-Large teams.
Johnson has also coached 11 individual Academic All-Americans in his time at Wyoming. Most recently Amanda Fay earned Scholar All-American First Team honors, while Jayce Calhoon, Ethan Griffel, Ryan Nelson, Jordan Turner and Morgan Hartigan earned Honorable Mention Scholar All-America honors.
The achievements his teams have made in the pool and classroom over the past 15 seasons are helping Johnson to continue to build the Wyoming swimming and diving program. "Our student-athletes understand where this program is headed and the success it can accomplish, and they want to be a part of that," said Johnson. "The goal for us is to continue to strive for consistent and constant improvement in all phases of their life, athletically, academically and socially."
"We want to make them be proud to be a Wyoming Cowboy or Cowgirl, and that they will always be connected to our program and understand the impact they have made over the four years they have been here."
A native of Camillus, N.Y., Johnson was a four-year Wyoming letterwinner as he swam for the Cowboys from 1982-85. Prior to becoming the head swimming and diving coach at Wyoming in 1998, Johnson was the head coach and program director for the Birmingham Swim League in Birmingham, Ala., from the novice level to Olympic trial qualifiers. He guided the Birmingham Swim League from 1994 to 1997, and had 16 swimmers go on to compete at the NCAA Division I level across the United States.
After lettering at UW, and ending his swimming career as the school record holder in the 200 breaststroke, Johnson became an assistant coach at Wyoming during the 1985-86 season. In 1987-88, he became the head coach at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. The following year, he returned to his native state of New York as the head coach for the Liverpool Jets Swim Club in Syracuse. From 1989-94, he was the head coach of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team.
Johnson earned a number of awards during his coaching career before to coming to Wyoming. He was named Colorado Swimming Coach of the Year in 1993, was selected as a coach for the United States Swimming's Select Camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in 1993, `94, `96 and `97, and was named the Southeastern Swimming Coach of the year in 1996.
He has achieved a Level 5 certification by the American Swimming Coaches Association, the highest level of certification, and is also a USS and NCAA Division I Level 5 certified coach. Johnson is also a USA Swimming National Team Coach.
Johnson and his wife, Cheryl, a native of Cheyenne, have two children, Tommy and Alexandra.