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The 2022-23 season marks Lars Jorgensen’s tenth year as the head coach of the University of Kentucky swimming and diving program.
In his years leading the program, Jorgensen has helped the team make significant strides within both the Southeastern Conference and national ranks. He coached Danielle Galyer to UK’s first individual swimming national champion in 2016, as well as guided Asia Seidt to 21 All-America honors, 15 SEC Championship medals – including four gold – and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year honor.
In 2021, Jorgensen led the UK women’s team to their first-ever SEC Championship title. He was also named the 2021 SEC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year, the first of such honor in his career. In February 2021, he was named the Competitor Coach of the Month by SwimSwam, which recognizes a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition.
Since taking over the program in 2012, Jorgensen has guided Kentucky to eight-straight top-25 team finishes at the NCAA Championships, not including the canceled 2020 NCAA Championships. He is also a five-time USA Swimming National Team coach, a USA Team World University Games coach, and earned the prestigious Coach of the Year honor by UK Athletics in 2017.
The 2020-21 season was one of the history books for the women’s team, culminating in an SEC Championship title with a program-record 1,124 points. At the conference meet, the Wildcats collected 12 medals, including three gold, three silver, and six bronze, in addition to breaking five school records. The 800 freestyle relay team of Izzy Gati, Riley Gaines, Kaitlynn Wheeler, and Sophie Sorenson combined to give UK their first SEC relay title since 2007, while Lauren Poole (400 IM) and Gaines (200 free) were individual SEC champions. Ten women also landed on All-SEC teams, including five on the First-Team.
A school-record 14 UK women were invited to the 2021 NCAA Championships, besting the previous record of 10 and tying for the third-most swimmers invited that season. Those 14 Wildcats combined for 35 entries total, which is also a school record. UK finished 11th with 152 points at NCAAs, marking their best team finish in school history as well as the most points scored, and also their fourth-straight year in the top-15. Kentucky collected 23 All-America honors – eight First Team and 15 Honorable Mention – yet another school record. The 800 free relay earned silver, Lauren Poole swam to bronze in the 400 IM, and diver Kyndal Knight earned All-America Honorable Mention on the 1-meter springboard.
The men’s team also saw success during the 2020-21 campaign. The UK men finished seventh at the 2021 SEC Championships with 759 points, the highest score in program history. Two swimmers and three divers were invited to compete at the NCAA Championships for a combined 10 individual entries. Zane Rosely became the first UK male freshman swimmer since 2013 to earn a bid to the NCAA Championships and was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team. Divers Sam Duncan and Danny Zhang also landed on the All-SEC Freshman Team and All-SEC Second Team, respectively.
A total of nine swimmers qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. Sophie Sorenson was a two-time semifinalist in both the 100-meter and 200-meter back, while Gillian Davey advanced to the 200-meter breast semifinal. Three divers participated in the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials in Indianapolis, where Chase Lane was a finalist on the 10-meter platform and Kyndal Knight qualified for the 1-meter springboard semifinals.
Despite to 2019-20 season being cut short one week before the 2020 NCAA Championships and during the 2020 NCAA Zone C Diving Championships because of the COVID-19 public health threat, the swimming and diving program had considerable success throughout both the regular and postseason. Not to mention a wealth of postseason awards, including Asia Seidt being named the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year, the 2020 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the 2020 CoSIDA At-Large Academic Team Member of the Year and the 2021 NCAA Top 10 award. Moreover, a school record 18 UK swimmers and divers earned All-SEC Team honors.
To start the 2019-20 season, the women’s team defeated Indiana for the first time in more than 10 years, with their last victory back in 2007. Then, at the 2020 SEC Championships, the women’s team finished in third place for the third time in four years, earning a then-program-high 987.5 points. There, then-sophomore Kyndal Knight won her first gold medal at the league meet, doing so on the 3-meter springboard, while the women’s team also rallied four silver medals, six bronze medals, and broke three school records. Following the SEC Championships, a then-school-record 10 Kentucky female swimmers earned an invitation to the 2020 NCAA Championships to compete in a combined 23 events, which was also a school record at the time. Bailey Bonnett, Ali Galyer, Izzy Gati and Seidt led the way earning three individual entries each before the national meet was canceled.
The men’s team had an outstanding 2019-20 season, too, led by a group of experienced and determined senior swimmers. The men’s team finished in seventh place at the 2020 SEC Championships on a then-program-high 724 points. There, then-sophomore Danny Zhang earned a gold medal on platform, while the men’s team also rallied two silver medals, one bronze medal, and broke seven school records at the SEC Championships – four individual school records and three relay school records. In the process, the men’s team rallied a bronze finish in the 400 freestyle relay, the men’s program’s first swimming podium finish at the SEC Championships in more than seven years. Afterward, five Kentucky male swimmers earned an invitation to the 2020 NCAA Championships, the most individual male swimmers the program has qualified for the “big dance” since 2009-10.
In 2018-19, Jorgensen led both the men’s and women’s programs to top-25 NCAA team finishes, the first time both teams have finished in the top-25 in the same season in over 10 years (since 2007-08). In addition, he led the men’s and women’s teams to victories over top-ranked Louisville. It marked the second-straight season the women’s team defeated the in-state foe and the first time the UK men have defeated the Cardinals in 12 years (since 2007). Remarkably, a then-record 12 UK swimmers and divers were awarded All-SEC honors at the season’s end, including the SEC Co-Female Freshman Diver of the Year in Kyndal Knight. In addition, the program set 13 school records from seven men and eight women.
Jorgensen led the UK women’s team to earn eight medals, including one gold, at the 2019 SEC Championships, finishing a then-program-high third-place finish in the league meet for the second time in three years. Under his leadership, nine female swimmers earned invitation to compete in the 2019 NCAA Championships. There, the UK women’s team broke five school records, earned five podium finishes, received 19 All-America honors, and finished 15th on 100.5 points. Meanwhile, the UK women earned their third-straight top-15 finish at the national meet, and the 100.5 points earned is the second-most points won at the NCAA Championships in program history.
In addition, junior Asia Seidt won her fourth SEC gold medal under Jorgensen in 2018-19, becoming a 16-time All-America. She was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the Arthur Ashe Female Sports Scholar of the Year, received the ELITE 90 Award, and won Miss Wildcat by UK Athletics – among other honors and distinctions.
On the men’s side, Jorgensen helped the team earn a seventh place finish on 672 points at the 2019 SEC Championships. In the process, it marked the most points scored by the UK men in program history at the time and the team has improved in points and team standings in each of its last three appearances at the SEC Championships. Two male swimmers qualified for the 2019 NCAA Championships, while the men earned seven All-America honors and finished 25th. Jorgensen coached the men’s 400 free relay team to a 15th-place finish on a school-record mark.
UK capped off the 2017-18 season with another landmark achievement under Jorgensen’s direction. The Wildcat women finished 14th at the NCAA Championships for the second-consecutive season, marking back-to-back top-15 finishes for the first time in more than a decade and just the second time in program history.
After qualifying 15 athletes for the national meet, seven Wildcats earned All-America honors, including four First Team honors. Sophomore Asia Seidt followed up her stellar rookie campaign with another record-breaking season, racking up five All-America honors including a national runner-up finish in the 200 back with a school-record time.
Eight Kentucky student-athletes were named 2018 All-SEC performers. The Wildcats won a trio of individual SEC championships as Seidt earned titles in the 100 and 200 back events and junior Geena Freriks won the 500 free. For the second-straight season, Kentucky brought home the SEC Freshman Female Swimmer of the Year honor as Bailey Bonnett claimed the award. The Wildcats tacked on another freshman honor as Chase Lane was named the SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year.
The 2016-17 campaign was one of the most successful in program history, with the women’s team matching its highest finish at the SEC Championships by taking third place overall and finishing 14th at the NCAA Championships, its best team finish in a decade. Jorgensen helped lead eight Wildcats to All-America honors, paced by freshman Asia Seidt with five All-America honors including a third-place finish in the 200 back. Seidt led a group of three Wildcats to qualify for the championship final of the event, ahead of Danielle Galyer (5th) and Ali Galyer (8th). Three Kentucky relays garnered All-America status, including UK’s 800 free relay team of Geena Freriks, Ali Galyer, Danielle Galyer and Seidt, which finished sixth for First Team All-America honors. Rebecca Hamperian closed her Kentucky career by earning her fifth All-America honor, as she finished 13th on the 3-meter at the national meet.
At the 2017 SEC Championships, two Wildcats picked up conference championships as Seidt cruised to victory in the 200 back and Freriks won the 200 free with a school-record time. The UK men’s team finished 37th at the NCAA Championships behind Seb Masterton’s All-America Honorable Mention performance as he finished 13th on the 1-meter.
In 2015-16, Jorgensen celebrated a number of landmarks. Most notably, he coached junior Danielle Galyer to Kentucky’s first-ever swimming national title. Galyer posted the sixth-fastest time in U.S. Open history in the 200 back, winning in 1:49.71. The 800 free relay also garnered All-America honorable mention, which consisted of Galyer, Kendal Casey, Geena Freriks and Haley McInerny. On the diving side, Rebecca Hamperian picked up honorable mention on the 1-meter and 3-meter. Overall, the women sent eight individual qualifiers and two relays, while the men had three individual qualifiers and a platform All-America honorable mention in Seb Masterton.
In the postseason, the Wildcats qualified 28 current and postgrad swimmers to the 2016 Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.. Galyer and Bridgette Alexander both made the final of the 200-meter back, with Galyer placing fifth while Alexander took eighth. Galyer also made the semifinals in the 100-meter back, while postgrad Christina Bechtel made the finals in the 200-meter fly and Kyle Higgins made the semifinals in the 200-meter fly. The first Olympian of the Jorgensen era came when Zimbabwe selected rising senior Sean Gunn to represent his nation in Rio in the 100-meter freestyle.
In 2014-15, the program broke 12 school records and earned the highest individual NCAA swimming finish in school history to date. The women’s team sent nine student-athletes to the 2015 NCAA Championships, where the Wildcats collected a total 17 All-America accolades among 17 individual performances and two relays. The highlight of the meet was USA Swimming National Team member Christina Bechtel finishing runner-up in the 200 fly, which is the highest individual swimming finish that the Wildcats have ever seen on the national stage, to go with a sixth-place finish in the 100 fly and a second First Team All-America title to her name. Additionally, Rebecca Hamperian was named a two-time First Team All-American after finishing fourth in the 1-meter dive and seventh in the platform dive, and Danielle Galyer earned All-America First Team honors in the 200 back after a fourth-place performance.
As a team, the Wildcats recorded the then-best NCAA finish since 2007 after placing 16th and the squad had the then-best SEC finish since 2011 after coming in seventh. At the conference championship, Bechtel and Galyer won the 200 fly and 200 back, respectively, marking the first time a Wildcat had won an SEC title since 2007. The two were named to the SEC First Team, while Hamperian collected Second Team honors after finishing runner-up in the 1-meter dive and Bridgette Alexander was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Accolades continued to roll in for the team after the SEC Championships, as Galyer was named the SEC Female Scholar Athlete of the Year and Hamperian was honored as the SEC Female Diver of the Year.
On the men’s side, the Wildcats had three qualifiers at the NCAA Championships and the team received a final ranking of No. 40 according to collegeswimming.com. Kentucky saw Brandon Flynn, Kyle Higgins, and Levi Lindsey advance to the national championship, qualifying for a total of six events. Flynn and Higgins both had their names etched atop UK laurels, with Flynn breaking the school record in the 400 IM while Higgins swam the anchor leg of the record-breaking 800 free relay lineup. The distance free group continued to shine in 2014-15, with the 500 free record falling to Isaac Jones and the 1650 free record broken by Andrew Aviotti. Lindsey also made history, becoming the first freshman to break the 400-point barrier in the platform dive. As a team, the Wildcats finished 10th in the SEC with 407 points.
Jorgensen’s first season heading the program saw the women’s team record its best NCAA finish since 2008, taking 23rd with 36 points. The Wildcats had four individual qualifiers among 10 events, with Christina Bechtel taking home All-America First Team honors in the 200 fly after finishing fifth in the nation while Christa Cabot placed eighth on the 3-meter springboard to earn First Team All-America accolades. Cabot also earned All-America honorable mention on platform, and Abby Meyers received honorable mention in the 200 fly. Seven records fell in 2014 for the women, including Kendal Casey’s top mark in the 200 free and Kendra Crew’s 200 breast performance. At the conference championships, UK finished 10th with 426 points and Bechtel earned Second Team All-SEC honors.
On the men’s side, the Wildcats had a 37th-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Championships, qualifying six student-athletes in a combined 15 events. The medley relay team of Lucas Gerotto, George Greenhalgh, Eric Bruck, and Chris Lott qualified in both the 200 and 400 medley relay, earning All-America honorable mention in the 200 medley relay after finishing 16th. Also notching All-America accolades was Greg Ferrucci with an 11th-place showing in the platform dive. In addition to the 200 and 400 medley relays having a UK record-breaking year, Greenhalgh set the program standards in the 100 and 200 breast, while Gerotto claimed the record in the 100 back and Flynn wrote his name atop the record books in the 400 IM. At the SEC Championships, the men finished eighth with 532 points and Ferrucci was named to the All-SEC Second Team.
Before coming to Kentucky in 2012, the San Diego, Calif. native and former University of Tennessee product served as the interim head coach for the Volunteers during the 2011-12 season after being an assistant coach for the program in 2010-11. During his time in Knoxville, Tennessee had a top-12 national finish and placed third at the SEC Championships while posting a 6-2 (2-1 SEC) record in 2010. Jorgensen helped coach 12 All-America honorees and saw three school records broken during his tenure.
Prior to the return to his alma mater, Jorgensen served as the head coach for the Toledo Rockets from 2004-10, where he was twice named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year. In his time at Toledo, Jorgensen helped the Rockets rise to new heights, capturing the program’s first MAC Championship in 2010 and finishing 35th at the NCAA Championships. The Rockets were also stellar out of the water with Jorgensen at the helm, tallying a 3.40 GPA as a team to rank 17th among NCAA Division I during that season.
Before Toledo, Jorgensen spent four years at LSU, serving as the Tigers’ assistant coach for three seasons before being promoted to associate coach. In all four years at LSU, his teams finished in the top-20 nationally, with their highest NCAA Championship finish of 16th place.
As a student-athlete, Jorgensen was a standout swimmer for Tennessee and the United States. He represented the U.S. in the 1500-meter freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and has six USA National Championship titles to his name. Jorgensen also held the UT record in the 1000 free, touching in at 9:05.38 in 1992 for a record that remained untouched until 2015. He was the program record holder in the 1650 free in 15:04.58, which stood from 1992-2009.
Additionally, he holds the record for the Ironman World Championship swimming split in 46:41, along with the second-fastest swimming split in Ironman history as the two times have been the fastest splits for 17 years.