Wildcats bring freshman class to 11 strong with pair of breaststrokers, distance freestyler
The 2014-15 season marked Jimmy Tierney's 21st year as head coach and his 27th season of involvement with the Northwestern women's swimming program. Prior to being appointed head coach in 1994, Tierney spent six seasons as the Wildcats' assistant coach.
Among the country's most respected collegiate coaches, Tierney has established Northwestern as one of the top women's swimming programs in the nation: athletically, scholastically and in the community.
Tierney's teams have had a Big Ten champion in 15 different seasons in which he has been at NU. In addition, All-America honors have been earned a total of 146 times at Northwestern. The Wildcats dominated the national stage during Tierney's early career in Evanston. Beginning with his tenure as an assistant coach in the late 1980s, Northwestern finished in the top-20 in the country in 11-straight seasons through 2000. That year, the Wildcats were a program-best sixth at the NCAA Championships after finishing ninth in 1999 and 10th in 1998. NU's previous program-best finish was a 10th-place result in 1990, Tierney's second season as an NU assistant coach. Four swimmers Tierney coached during his career have been inducted into the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame: Lori Holmes Ave, Kim Paton Fromberg, Amy Balcerzak Field and Christy Wicke.
Academically, Northwestern regularly excels in conference and national accolades. Most recently, from 2010-12, the Wildcats recorded 20 or more Academic All-Big Ten awards for three-straight seasons. In 2011, Northwestern earned 14 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards -- the most of any team in any sport in the entire B1G Conference for that season. NU's team GPA of 3.59 in 2011-12 was the third-best in the entire nation for Division I women's swimming and diving and it continued a theme that has long been present under Tierney: In 1995-96, his second year, the Wildcats also ranked third in the entire nation with a 3.42 GPA.
In the community, Northwestern also has excelled under Tierney. The Wildcats women's swimmers and divers regularly are among the most active teams at NU in volunteering their time season-to-season, and they took it a step further in the fall of 2012 when then-juniors Megan Goss and Jackie Powell founded NU's "Breaststroke4BreastCancer," an hour-long relay swim that attracted nearly 150 participants and has raised over $25,000 for local cancer research in its three years of existence.
Tierney's team in 2007-08 fought to return the program to its national prominence held earlier in the decade. The Wildcats placed 22 new entries on their all-time top-10 performers list, broke 10 school records, earned three All-Big Ten honors and sent nine swimmers to the NCAA Championships in 15 different events. In addition, Tierney was elected Big Ten Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. The Wildcats ended the season by finishing 19th at the NCAA Championships for the 12th top-20 finish during Tierney's time in Evanston.
Showcasing the increased depth of the squad in 2008-09, Northwestern broke its school record for dual-meet wins with a 10-2 record -- reaching double-digit victories for the first time in Tierney's tenure. Tierney earned the 100th dual-meet win of his career on Jan. 29, 2011, when Northwestern went 3-1 at the Shamrock Invitational in South Bend, Ind. Tierney now has a 126-94-1 all-time dual mark in his 21 seasons with the Wildcats.
Prior to his arrival at NU, Tierney served as assistant coach of the Southern Illinois men's and women's swimming teams from 1986-88. Several of his athletes earned All-America honors during his coaching stint in Carbondale.
From 1980-86, Tierney coached the Lakeside Swim Club in Louisville, Ky., one of the nation's most successful clubs during the 1980's. During his tenure, Lakeside captured 10 consecutive state championships (indoor and outdoor) and produced numerous state record holders and nationally ranked swimmers.
Three Lakeside swimmers earned spots on the USA Olympic teams from 1980-88.
Tierney is a member of United States Swimming and has been appointed to serve on USA National team staffs. In 1999, he was selected to serve as an assistant coach at the World University Games held in Mallorca, Spain. In the summer of 2001, Tierney traveled to Rome, Italy where he served as head coach of the U.S. Junior National Team at the XXXIX Trophy Seven Hills.
Tierney again was selected as a coach for the United States' World University Games team in 2007, where he coached NU All-American Andrea Hupman to a pair of relay gold medals and an individual silver medal in the 100 freestyle at the Bangkok Games.
At the 2005 American Swim Coaches World Clinic, Tierney was re-elected to the Board of Directors for his fourth term to serve his fellow coaches in the United States. He chairs the Coach of the Year committee which annually recognizes one of its members for its highest honor.
During the summer months, he is the co-head coach of Wildcat Aquatics and also serves as director of the Wildcat Swim Camp.
Tierney is a native of Louisville, Ky. He earned a bachelors degree in mathematics from the University of Louisville in 1980, then went to Southern Illinois to earn a masters degree in sports administration in 1988.
Tierney lives in Wilmette with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Adam and Samantha. Nancy is the director of fitness/wellness at Northwestern University.