Swimming Fast with Dr. Dave Salo (Part 2)

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Coach Dave Salo’s bio from USC:

Dave Salo came to USC more than seven years ago as one of the most successful club and national coaches in the country.

Now in his eighth season as the Trojans head men’s and women’s swimming coach, Salo is firmly entrenched among the NCAA’s top collegiate coaches. Additionally, his wildly successful Trojan Swim Club has made him a go-to coach for top-shelf swimmers around the world who are seeking to propel their careers even further.

With both program’s competing at an elite level and in the hunt for national championships, it was no surprise that Salo received a five-year contract extension in the summer of the 2011.

“I am proud of the improvements we have made and quite eager to continue progressing in this direction,” said Salo. “The vote of confidence from Pat Haden and (senior associate athletic director) Donna Heinel on the job that we are doing is greatly appreciated. It’s great to be a Trojan!”

Salo, who has more than 25 years of collegiate, club and national level coaching experience, replaced Mark Schubert in 2006 when Schubert assumed USA Swimming’s head coach position.

Though far from complete, Salo’s remarkable career was honored in 2010 when he was inducted into the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Further validating his strength as a coach, he recently completed his third U.S. Olympic staff coaching assignment, serving as a 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s swim team assistant coach.

Salo had the Trojans rolling again in 2012 as the USC women’s and men’s teams repeated their third- and seventh-place finishes at their respective NCAA Championships. For the women, that marked the fifth year in a row USC either improved or matched its previous year’s NCAA finish and it was the fourth in a row for the men.

The 2012 women’s team was led again by Katinka Hosszu, who completed her Trojan tenure with her fourth and fifth NCAA titles (200y fly, 400y IM) while earning a max seven All-American honors (including a second in the 200y IM) to give her 20 for her career. Hosszu was one of 12 All-Americans for the Trojans. Haley Anderson won her first career NCAA title in the 500y free in addition to taking third in the 1500y free. Both Stina Gardell and Meghan Hawthorne reached the final of the 200y IM while Gardell also did it in the 200y breast and Tanya Krisman did the same in the 200y fly. Kasey Carlson and Christel Simms joined Anderson as three-time All-Americans thanks to strong work on relays. The Trojan women also won seven Pac-12 titles, including three by Hosszu and two by Anderson.

Salo’s men’s team featured six All-Americans, led by Vladimir Morozov, who continued his rise as one of the NCAA’s top sprinters with a second in the 50y free and a third in the 100y free. In a meet marked with close calls for the Trojans, Dimitri Colupaev was second in the 200y free while Cristian Quintero was second in the 500y free. Alex Lendrum also reached the final of the 200y back. Morozov also won Pac-12 titles in the 50y and 100y free while Colupaev won the 200y free. Morozov was the first Trojan since 1977 to double up in the sprint events at the Pac-12s.

Following the 2012 NCAA season, Salo saw many of his swimmers flourish on the international stage. A whopping 13 swimmers from USC competed for a combined 10 countries at the 2012 Olympics. Anderson won silver in the Marathon 10K while Morozov earned a bronze on Russia’s 400y free relay. Recent graduate Rebecca Soni, one of many post-graduate swimmers still thriving under Salo, won her second straight gold in the 200m breast with a world-record swim while also earning gold during another world record in the 400m medley relay. She just missed another gold in the 100m breast, taking silver. Another recent graduate Clement Lefert won one gold and one silver for France on relays while Trojan great Ous Mellouli won gold for Tunisian in the Marathon 10K to go with a bronze in the 1500m free. Morozov went on to thrive at the European Nationals with seven medals (including two golds) while Hosszu won three golds and a silver. Morozov then won titles in the 50m and 100m free at the 2012 FINA Short Course Worlds while Hosszu won two golds as well. Jasmine Tosky, a 2013 freshman, won gold on the U.S. 800y free relay as well.

In 2011 under Salo, the Trojan women’s team’s third-place finish at the NCAAs was its best since 2003 and marked the fourth year in row USC improved its national finish. Troy finished 9-2 and third at the Pac-10 Championships. Hosszu won three NCAA titles (200y IM, 400y IM, 200y fly) and was named NCAA Swimmer of the meet and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. She was also tabbed as the Honda Sports Award winner as the nation’s top athlete in swimming and diving. The five-time All-American Hosszu was one of eight All-Americans last year and among five with at least three All-American honors apiece, which also included Anderson, Presley Bard, Carlson and Lyndsay DePaul.

The seventh-place NCAA finish by the men’s team was its best since 2007 and marked its third straight season of improvement. USC, which featured eight All-Americans in 2011, was led by four-time All-American sprinter Morozov, the 2011 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year who rewrote the Trojan record books repeatedly his freshman year. Complementing Morozov were three-time All-Americans Lefert and Colupaev, the trio spearheading the revitalized men’s team that finished 6-3 overall and third at the highly competitive Pac-10 Championships.

Salo also guided Soni to three gold medals and one bronze at the 2011 World Championships while Hosszu, Stina Gardell, Morozov and Mellouli also made appearances. At the 2011 World University Games, Anderson won gold and silver medals while Lefert earned a silver and DePaul reached two finals.

In 2010, the Trojans continued their resurgence toward the top of the NCAA swimming ranks while current and former Trojans continued to perform at the highest levels on the national and international stage.

The Trojan women’s team (10-2 overall, 4-2 in the Pac-10) finished seventh at the 2010 NCAA Championships and took third at Pac-10s, its best efforts since 2003. Hosszu, Bard and DePaul each reached a pair of finals at the NCAAs and, including one final from Anderson, combined for seven top 4 finishes. USC also posted All-American efforts in the 800y free relay and the 400y medley relay. The Trojan women won six Pac-10 titles as well, including the 800y free relay for the first time since 2003.

The men’s team finished 7-3, 1-3, taking fourth at Pac-10s and moving up to 11th at the NCAAs. Lefert earned individual All-American honors in the 500y free while he joined Zoltan Povazsay, Patrick White and Nick Karpov on an All-American 800y free relay. USC won the same relay at the 2010 Pac-10s while Lefert won the 200y free.

Outside the NCAA realm in 2010, Soni, on Salo’s staff as a volunteer coach, won two Pan Pac titles and three Short Course World Championship crowns. Anderson also posted three top 8 finishes at Pan Pacs. Hosszu won three European Championships gold medals for Hungary and was a two-time finalist at the Short Course Worlds. Mellouli, a former graduate assistant coach for Salo, won four medals at Short Course Worlds, including gold in the 1500m free. Lefert also competed in two events at the Short Course Worlds.

For all of the success, SwimNews.com named Salo 2010 international Women’s Coach of the Year.

Salo’s 2009 was similar to 2010 with USC swimmers performing strong collegiately, nationally and internationally.

The USC women’s team’s ninth-place at the 2009 NCAA Championships was its best finish since 2004. The squad (6-1 overall, 5-1 in the Pac-10) was again led by Soni, a senior who won NCAA titles in the 100y and 200y breast events for the second consecutive year. Hosszu also had a huge NCAAs, reaching the finals of three events, including a second-place in the 400y IM and a third in the 200y fly. Additionally, Soni and Hosszu were joined by Kristen Lahey and Rachel Waller, who all earned All-American honors after taking third in the 400y medley relay. The youth-dominated men’s team (4-3, 2-3) went through a rebuilding season but showed a lot of promise at the 2009 Pac-10s, led by James Martin and Povazsay and took a solid contingent to the NCAAs.

Also under Salo in 2009, Hosszu (400m IM) and Trojan graduates Soni (100m breast) and Mellouli (1500m free) all won 2009 World Championship gold medals while DePaul won a pair of silvers at the 2009 World University Games. Other Trojans who competed at the World Championships included Dina Hegazy, Ania Kowalczyk, Anderson and Povazsay.

Salo’s 2008 was highlighted by the huge success of USC swimmers who – after training with Salo – went on to big success at the 2008 Olympics. Swimmers who worked out with Salo and won 2008 Olympic medals included gold-medalists Soni, Mellouli and Klete Keller as well as bronze medalist Larsen Jensen. Salo served as Tunisia’s Olympic swim coach at the Olympics, enabling him to mentor the Tunisian-born Mellouli in Beijing.

Also in 2008, USC’s women’s squad finished 5-5 in 2008 while the men were 2-5. Both finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships. The Women of Troy’s season was topped off by Soni’s pair of NCAA titles, including her third consecutive NCAA crown in the 200y breast and her first in the 100y breast. In addition, Whitney Hentzen earned her first career All-American honor (in the 1650y free) while Emily Goetsch, Lahey, Waller and Soni earned additional All-American honors in the 400y medley relay.

The men’s season was capped by Vanni Mangoni’s Pac-10 title in the 400y IM and Richard Gosper’s consolation All-American nod in the 50y free at the NCAA Championships.

In his first year with the Trojans in 2007, USC’s men’s team finished 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the Pac-10, taking seventh at the NCAA Championships, fourth at the Pac-10 Championships. The Women of Troy, which suffered the losses of three former Olympians prior to the season’s end, were 5-4, 3-4, fifth at the Pac-10 Championships, 20th at the NCAA Championships.

Six men’s swimmers earned All-American honors in 2007, including then-senior Larsen Jensen, who won NCAA titles in the 500y and 1650y freestyles. Jensen won those same events at the Pac-10 Championships. Mangoni was also fourth in the 400y IM at the NCAA Championships.

Soni earned All-American honors on the women’s side, successfully defending her NCAA title in the 200y breast and also reaching the final of the 100y breast.

Other noteworthy first-year accomplishments under Salo included the breaking of USC’s record in the 50y free. Joe Bottom had held the record since 1977, but under Salo, senior Sean Sussex erased the mark, going under Bottom’s old standard twice at the end of the 2007 season. (At the start of the 2007-2008 season, it was broken again, this time by Gosper).

Salo also helped then-juniors Hentzen and Brittany Allen become NCAA Championships individual point scorers for the first time, the two distance freestylers each earning points for the Trojans in the 1650y free. Additionally, then-seniors Bryce Elser and Brandon Lovell both cracked USC’s all-time top 10 in the 100y fly in their first year under Salo.

Salo, 53, who has coached Olympic medalists such as Soni, Mellouli, Jensen, former Trojans Lenny Krayzelburg and Gabe Woodward as well as Aaron Peirsol, Amanda Beard, Staciana Stitts, Colleen Lanne and Jason Lezak, came to USC after serving as head coach of the Irvine Novaquatics from 1990 to 2006.

“Returning to USC, following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coaches Peter Daland and Mark Schubert, is a coach’s dream,” said Salo. “The fact that it is my reality can’t be described adequately.

“I have had a dream coaching career – coaching some of the best swimmers in the world with one of the best clubs in the country. The opportunity to come back to USC to coach one of the most storied programs in the history of collegiate swimming is tremendously exciting.”

Salo guided the Novas to numerous Junior National and U.S. National team titles as well as several age group championships. He was tabbed 2002 U.S. Swimming Coach of the Year after leading the Novas to U.S. Spring and Summer national titles.

In addition to his work with the Novas, he has served extensively at the national level, including head coaching assignments for the United States at the 2005 World Championships (men) and the 2001 Goodwill Games (men). His assistant coaching duties for the U.S. include the 2010 Short Course World Championships (women), 2004 Olympics (men), 2003 World Championships (men and women), 2002 Pan Pacific Championships (men), 2000 Olympics (women) and the 1999 Pan American Games (women).

Nova swimmers and alums who trained under Salo have consistently dotted the roster of U.S. national teams, often in starring roles. Peirsol, the world record holder in the 100 and 200 backstroke (lcm), is a three-time Olympian and won 2004 Olympic gold medals in both backstroke events as well as the 400 medley relay. He followed that up with golds in the 100 and the 400 medley relay at the 2008 Olympics and a silver in the 200. Beard is a four-time Olympian with seven medals, one of many elite breaststrokers who have come under Salo’s tutelage. Lezak, an eight-time Olympic medalist in four appearances, is among American’s greatest sprinters ever.

Besides duties with the Novas and the U.S. team, Salo served as co-head coach at Orange Coast College from 2000 to 2004. The Pirates won the 2003 California state title and Salo was honored as state Co-Coach of the Year. Also in 2003, he became the Founding Director of Aquatics at Soka University in Alisa Viejo, Calif., where he recently completed his second season with the Lions.

Salo joined the Novas after five seasons (1985-90) working under legendary USC swimming coach Peter Daland. He helped guide Troy’s men’s team to five Top 5 NCAA finishes, including second-place marks in 1987, 1988 and 1990. Troy also had perfect dual-meet records in 1988, 1990 and 1991. Among the USC swimmers he helped coach were NCAA champions and Olympians Dave Wharton and Dan Jorgensen.

Salo graduated from Long Beach State with a B.A. and M.A. in exercise physiology and also served as an assistant women’s swimming coach there in 1981 and 1982. He earned his doctorate in the same field from USC in 1991.

Salo swam for Santa Rosa Junior College from 1976 to 78 before transferring to Long Beach State.


  1. Thank you so much for this fantastic interview. However I cannot seem to listen on my Nook. Where do I click? Thank you!

  2. Hello – now I’m here on an ordinary computer, but find nothing to click on to listen to the audio interview. What am I doing wrong? Thank you!

  3. Cant seem to get the second part of the interview to run. Listened to the first part on SwimSwam and very interested to hear more.

    1. Hi Rob – we had some problems with our iTunes feed and haven’t had a chance to fix all the blogs. If you search for our podcast on iTunes you’ll see it there. Thanks!

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