By Zach Cavanagh
San Clemente Aquatics has a new man at the helm, as the program announced the hiring of 21-year coaching veteran Jason York as head coach on Monday, Sept. 21.
York takes over after the retirement of previous head coach Goran Westerlund earlier this month. Westerlund joined San Clemente Aquatics as a head age group coach in 2012 and became the club’s head coach in 2015.
After a national search for Westerlund’s successor, York was selected from his position as head coach of the Buenaventura Swim Club in Ventura, California, where he’s coached for the past 13 years of his 21-year swim coaching career. York will officially start with San Clemente Aquatics on Oct. 5.
“It was clear to the Hiring Committee from the beginning of our interview process that Jason was special and really stood out,” said Yann de Fabrique, President of the Board of Directors for San Clemente Aquatics. “He has energy, enthusiasm and passion for the sport balanced with maturity and strong technical skills, making him the ideal candidate to lead our club into its next chapter.”
In his swimming career, York competed at the Santa Clara Swim Club and at UC Santa Barbara and reached the 1992 Olympic Trials in the distance freestyle.
As a coach, York began at the Santa Clara Swim Club for eight years before moving to Buenaventura Swim Club to take on the head coaching role. At Buenaventura, York raised the club to a USA Swimming Silver Medal Club and led the team to a summer Junior National Championship. York coached many championship finalists, a National Junior Team swimmer and several Olympic Trials swimmers, with many of those accomplishments coming in the past five years.
York told the San Clemente Aquatics Hiring Committee that he has an “athlete-first” mentality to coaching, and “will always teach and coach with love.” The Hiring Committee was also impressed by his focus on proper technique and stroke development for swimmers at each age level.
‘”I do not believe great swims happen by accident,” York told San Clemente Aquatics. “I believe the progression of a swimmer to a world class athlete can be a planned event. I believe with proper guidance, a young athlete who has guts, determination, and a tough mentality makes his or her own reality. My program will offer each of my swimmers the opportunity to create their own reality and realize their potential.”
San Clemente Aquatics believes the hiring of York has put them in a strong position to grow the club into an even more competitive organization. San Clemente Aquatics, which was founded in 1975 and moved into the San Clemente Aquatics Center at Vista Hermosa Park in 2011, currently trains approximately 200 swimmers.
San Clemente Aquatics sees York’s hire as allowing the top swimmers of South Orange County the ability to train at a high level without needing to travel elsewhere up the freeway.
“We are fortunate to have so much swimming talent in South Orange County,” de Fabrique said. “By hiring top-notch coaches, we feel our team has the capacity to both grow its membership and achieve more swimming success on a national scale.”
York will add to his coaching staff soon, in addition to maintaining existing staff, to up the level of the entire club.
“We are a very family-oriented town here in San Clemente, and our team will continue to serve the varying requisites for all age groups from casual engagement all the way through to competitive swimming,” said Sarah Schneider, San Clemente Aquatics’ Board of Directors Communication Director. “We are looking to improve our programs across the board to ensure we are serving our community’s needs, and Jason is the type of coach to lead us there.”
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.