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Longtime coach Terry Ganley calls it a career after historic tenure with Gophers swimming and diving

After Sarah Bacon and Max McHugh both took home national titles, Ganley retired from her position as men’s and women’s senior associate head coach.
Image by Courtesy of Gopher Athletics
Senior associate head swimming coach Terry Ganley

Redshirt senior diver Sarah Bacon swept both of the springboard diving events to claim her third and fourth career NCAA titles, and junior swimmer Max McHugh joined Bacon by sweeping 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events to earn two national championships of his own. Following the historic success, longtime Gophers’ coach Terry Ganley announced her retirement on March 29, after 44 seasons.

Ganley, a Minneapolis native, began her career with the Gophers as a freshman swimmer in fall 1973 and has remained on campus since then. Following her successful career as a student-athlete where she won multiple Big Ten titles, she began her coaching career under her college coach, Jean Freeman.

“It was the very beginning of respect or value of women’s athletics,” Ganley said. “I had no idea at that time that we would get to a place where we have an opportunity for women that we do now.”

Ganley and Freeman led Gophers women’s swimming to nine second-place finishes in the Big Ten conference between 1984 and 1998. They broke through in 1999, winning their first conference title and repeating the following season. During the same period, Ganley coached Gretchen Hegener to the 1997 national title in the 100 breaststroke – the program’s first NCAA swimming champion.

“Gretchen was a local young athlete, and she came to Minnesota with very little competitive background,” Ganley said. “When you got a local Minnesota athlete that performs on the national stage, wins the NCAA championship and sets an American record, obviously I guess that stands out.”

Ganley was named interim head coach following Freeman’s 2004 retirement. Ganley and current men’s head coach Kelly Kremer were then named co-head coaches of the women’s team; the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs merged in 2011, and Kremer was named the head coach, while Ganley continued in her role as women’s head coach. She later entered her current role as women’s and men’s senior associate head coach.

The program then entered a period of unrivaled success, winning four consecutive Big Ten championships from 2012 to 2015. Ganley was involved in developing three NCAA champions during that time, Jillian Tyler, Haley Spencer and Kierra Smith. Ganley ended her career like she started: coaching national champions. She guided McHugh’s development; McHugh won the NCAA title in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes in March and became the first men’s NCAA swimming champion in 57 years.

“I would say [Ganley] is the most caring coaching that I have ever had,” McHugh said. “She cared for me more as a person than as a swimmer. That was evident every day in practice.”

In last month’s championships, McHugh became the first swimmer in the Minnesota swimming and diving program’s history to earn two titles in one NCAA championships event. The junior Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, native finished the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:49.02, marking the fifth-fastest time in history.

McHugh’s time also broke his own program record.

“I see my name on the board, and there is that initial excitement,” McHugh said. “But I think I kinda realized it on the plane ride back. I realized that it was the end of my season and a good way to cap it off.”

Bacon capped off her historic collegiate career with her first career NCAA title in the three-meter springboard and her third career title in the one-meter springboard. The Indianapolis, Indiana, native will join McHugh as two of the greatest to ever don the Maroon and Gold.

“I hope that I have helped build the foundation for a program that will continue to educate young men and women and really provide them with skills needed for success in life beyond competitive swimming and diving,” Ganley said.

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