Germantown Academy names Thompson new coach

Germantown Academy has settled on a replacement to legendary swim coach Dick Shoulberg.

The school announced Thursday that it has hired Jeff Thompson to head its scholastic and Germantown Academy Aquatic Club program after a national search.

Thompson, who has coached at the USA Swimming level since 1997 with Terre Haute Torpedoes in Indiana, has experience at the high school level with his alma mater, Terre Haute South Vigo High School, where he led the boys team to a sectional title in 2010 and has steered the girls team to 15 consecutive winning seasons.

Thompson, who swam for the now-defunct program at the University of Illinois, has been involved at various levels of scholastic and club competition and sits on the Indiana High School Swimming Coaches Association Board of Directors. He holds a Master of Science degree in coaching from Indiana State University and is pursuing his Ph.D. in educational leadership and administrative foundations from Indiana State.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to work at Germantown Academy,’ Thompson said in a school release. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that GA and GAAC will continue its strong tradition of producing some of the world’s best swimmers for a long time to come.’

“We are so pleased that Jeff has decided to take this position,’ GA Director of Athletics Jim Fenerty said. “His knowledge, dedication and passion for the sport of swimming, as well as his teaching experience, made him an excellent candidate. The student-athletes, both at Germantown Academy and within the GA Aquatic Club (GAAC), are excited about Jeff coming to the deck this year, and I know he will make an immediate impact on our programs.’

He’ll have massive shoes to fill in the form of Shoulberg, who last year was transitioned to the role of coach emeritus after 44 years at the helm of GA, where he transformed the club into one of the premier programs in the Eastern United States and churned out 16 Olympians.

Shoulberg had been placed on administrative leave in December, reportedly over the improper handling of a hazing incident involving members of the boys swim team. A groundswell of support led to Shoulberg’s reinstatement as coach emeritus, but with the day-to-day administrative and coaching duties falling to Claire Crippen and Chris Lear. His removal from the position at a club he founded in 1969 drew national attention, given his esteemed position in the American swimming coaching establishment and his contribution on several national team delegations through the years.

From the sounds of it, though, Shoulberg will continue to play a role in the direction of GA swimming, as will Lear and Crippen, the latter a 2006 graduate of the program. The release cites the decision as being made, “with the support and assistance’ of Shoulberg, and Shoulberg is quoted in the release.

“I am very happy for our students and swimmers who will be under the guidance of Coach Thompson, and equally as happy that he is maintaining the whole staff,’ Shoulberg is quoted as saying. “Coach Thompson has asked me to help him wherever he feels I can help, and I look forward to a good relationship together. He is an enthusiastic, all-school person who clearly sees the big picture in what a successful student-athlete looks like, and I am excited to welcome him to GA.’

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