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Jim Richardson was the head coach of the University of Michigan women's swimming and diving team for 27 years. He announced his retirement on May 16, 2012.
During his tenure at Michigan, the Wolverines have had unparalleled success in the Big Ten Conference, while also achieving several firsts on the national level. His teams won 12 consecutive league titles from 1987-98 -- a precedent among Big Ten women's athletic teams -- before adding the team's 13th in 2001 and 14th in 2004, a league high for a women's sport.
Since taking over the program in 1985-86, Richardson has finished in the top 10 of the NCAA in all but 10 years. In 1995, Michigan finished in second place as a team. The Wolverines followed that up in 1996 with a third-place finish when they hosted the NCAA Championships in Canham Natatorium. Richardson was one to two recipients of The Richard E. Steadman Award at the 2008 CSCAA awards ceremony. The Steadman award is conferred annually to a coach who, in the opinion of the ISHOF, CSCAA Forum and CSCAA, has done the most to spread happiness in swimming and diving.
Under the direction of Richardson, Michigan consistently qualifies student-athletes for the NCAA National Championships and U.S. National Championships. Richardson's coaching achievements and respect within the swimming community have earned him various honors. He reached the coaching pinnacle in 1993 and again in 1995 when he was named NCAA Coach of the Year. He also served as assistant coach for the United States at the 1993, 1995 and 1999 World University Games. In 1997, Richardson was offered an assistant coaching spot for the U.S. Pan-Pacific Championship team but declined in order to spend time with his family.
Past swimmers who have prospered under Richardson include seven NCAA national champions: Ann Colloton, the 1989 200-yard breaststroke champion; Lara Hooiveld, the 1993 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke champion; Mindy Gehrs, the 1993 400-yard individual medley champion; Alecia Humphrey, the 1995 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke champion; and the 1995 400-yard medley relay team of Humphrey, Rachel Gustin, Talor Bendel and Megan Gillam; and Emily Brunemann, the 2008 1650-yard freestyle champion. Richardson's Wolverines have earned 162 NCAA All-America honors, including nine in 2008. Additionally, Richardson has coached 223 NCAA honorable mention All-Americans (including 22 in 2008, 13 in 2009 and nine in 2011), 168 Big Ten champions and 36 Olympic Trial qualifiers, including 2008 Olympic qualifiers Natasha Moodie and Valeria Silva. A six-time Big Ten Swimming Coach of the Year, Richardson led teams to undefeated seasons from 1987 through 1989 and in 1994. From 1987 to midway through 1990, the Wolverines went 33-0 in dual meets.
An ardent believer in the student-athlete, Richardson's teams have earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America national all-academic recognition from 1992-2006. In 2007, Kaitlyn Brady, Valeria Silva, Payton Johnson, Margaret Kelly, Hannah Smith and Lindsey Smith were named CSCAA All-Academic, bringing Richardson's career total to 30 swimmers who have earned the honor. Nineteen swimmers have garnered CSCAA honorable mention All-Academic honors, while 206 women have been named to the Academic All-Big Ten team, including 13 in 2007. Additionally, two swimmers, Kim Johnson and Mindy Gehrs, have won the prestigious Big Ten Medal of Honor along with seven swimmers who received NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships: Mindy Gehrs, Alecia Humphrey, Anne Kampfe, Kim Johnson, Rachel Gustin, Jen Crisman, and Margaret Kelly.
In addition to his Michigan coaching duties, Richardson is a member of United States Swimming and the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. He has previously served as a member of the Board of Directors and as president of the CSCAA. Richardson received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University in 1971 and attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
His collegiate coaching career began at the University of Iowa, where he was an assistant for three years before coming to Michigan in 1985. Richardson resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Mary Sue. They have four children and two grandchildren.
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