(Laramie, Wyoming) Tom Johnson has announced he will be resigning from his position as head coach of the University of Wyoming swimming and diving program at the end of the season to enter private business. Johnson, who has served as head coach for the past 19 seasons, graduated from UW in 1986 and was a four-year letterwinner for the Cowboys from 1982-85. He served as an assistant coach for the Cowboys and Cowgirls for the 1985-86 season, and returned to the University of Wyoming as head coach beginning with the 1998-99 season.
“I am resigning from my position as head coach of the University of Wyoming Swimming and Diving teams and my last day of employment will be April 30th, 2017,” said Johnson. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 19 years of coaching at my alma mater and will cherish the amazing memories that I have shared over the years with all of the athletes, coaches and my university colleagues, past and present.
“I am excited for the new business endeavor that I am pursuing and look forward to the new direction of my career, even though I will miss my position here at UW. I will do everything I can to ease the transition for my coaching staff and wish the University of Wyoming Swimming and Diving programs nothing but continued success.”
“Coach Johnson has built a program over 19 years that is highly respected throughout our region,” said University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman. “He has built a successful program that produces high quality student-athletes and high quality people.
“T.J. (Tom Johnson) is synonymous with Wyoming swimming as both a student-athlete and coach. “He has played as important a role as any coach in the history of Wyoming swimming and diving.”
Over the past 19 seasons, Johnson has led the Cowboys and Cowgirls to their highest conference finishes ever and has been named conference coach of the year four times. At UW, he has seen 30 of his individual team members win Mountain West Conference Championships, four win Western Athletic Conference Championships and four capture individual Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships. Johnson has coached four First Team All-Americans, five Honorable Mention All-Americans and 11 Academic All-Americans.
Possibly Johnson’s greatest achievement came in 2004 when he coached Scott Usher to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. It was following Usher’s junior season that he reached the pinnacle of the swimming world by earning a spot on the United States Olympic Team. Johnson was right by Usher’s side as he wore the bucking horse swim cap and raced to a second-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on national television. When Usher competed in the Olympic Games, Johnson was by his side again as Usher reached the finals of the 200-meter breaststroke and swam to a seventh-place finish in the world. In all, Johnson helped guide Usher to four First Team All-America honors, five overall All-America honors and six MW Championships during his career at UW.
The success Wyoming has had in the pool has been matched in the classroom. Johnson has coached 11 individual Academic All-Americans in his time at Wyoming, and over the past five years, 13 UW swimmers and divers have earned Academic All-District VII honors from CoSIDA.
A native of Camillus, N.Y., Johnson was a four-year Wyoming letterwinner as he swam for the Cowboys from 1982-85. After lettering at UW and ending his swimming career as the school record holder in the 200 breaststroke, Johnson became an assistant coach at Wyoming for the 1985-86 season. In 1987-88, he became the head coach at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. The following year, he returned to his native state of New York as the head coach for the Liverpool Jets Swim Club in Syracuse for the 1988-89 season. From 1989-94, he was the head coach of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team. Johnson was the head coach and program director for the Birmingham Swim League in Birmingham, Ala., from the novice level to Olympic trial qualifiers from 1994 to 1997, and had 16 swimmers go on to compete at the NCAA Division I level across the United States. He became the head coach for the Wyoming swimming and diving program beginning with the 1998-99 season,
In addition to being named a four-time conference Coach of the Year at the collegiate level while at Wyoming, Johnson earned a number of awards during his coaching career before returning to his alma mater. He was named Colorado Swimming Coach of the Year in 1993, was selected as a coach for the United States Swimming’s Select Camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in 1993, `94, `96 and `97 and was named the Southeastern Swimming Coach of the Year in 1996.
Johnson achieved a Level 5 certification by the American Swimming Coaches Association, the highest level of certification. Johnson has also been a USA Swimming National Team Coach.
He and his wife, Cheryl, a native of Cheyenne, have two children, Tommy and Alexandra.
Burman said a national search will be conducted for a new head coach for the Wyoming swimming and diving program.