June 15, 2024

The University of Virginia has hired Gary Taylor to fill the vacant spot left on its coaching staff left in the wake of former associate head coach Blaire Anderson leaving to take over as the Director of Swimming at Texas A&M University.

This marks Taylor’s return to college swimming after a three year absence. He was the head coach at Auburn for three seasons, before “mutually agreeing to part ways” with the Tigers after neither team scored at the 2021 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. Shortly thereafter, he was announced as the new head coach of the Cavalier Aquatics club team based out of Charlottesville, which is also where Virginia is located.

Taylor and Virginia head coach Todd DeSorbo worked together as assistant coaches at NC State before both got programs of their own. DeSorbo was with the Wolfpack from 2011 through 2017, while Taylor was there from 2012 through 2018.

Taylor built his reputation as a distance coach at NC State. In six seasons, he coached 11 swimmers to NC State school records and 97 to all-time top 10 performances as the lead coach for the school’s distance group. In 2017-2018, NC State was the only school with top three finishers in both the men’s and women’s 1650 freestyles at the NCAA D1 Swimming & Diving Championships. That included men’s champion Anton Ipsen.

While his tenure at Auburn didn’t come with those same lofty results, Taylor found more success at the club level with Cavalier Aquatics. Specifically, he has been the primary coach of US National Team member Thomas Heilman, who won a gold medal on the American 400 medley relay at the 2023 World Championships.

He also finished 16th in the 100 fly and 4th in the 200 fly at only 16 years old.

While Heilman was already a talented age grouper before Taylor’s arrival in Charlottesville, Taylor’s presence has grown Heilman’s versatility and pushed him toward the top of the international ranks.

While sources at Virginia say that it hasn’t been decided yet whether Taylor will keep coaching Heilman during his senior season of high school, Taylor is expected to keep some role with the Cavalier Aquatics program. Heilman is verbally committed to swim at Virginia beginning fall 2025 as part of their best-in-the-nation recruiting class.

Prior to NC State, Taylor spent four years as the distance coach at Florida State, including coaching 2012 ACC Freshman of the Year Juan Sequera; three years with the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta; and six years with the Twin Cities Swim Team in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He swam collegiately at Minnesota, including as a member of their 1998 Big Ten Championship meet, graduating in 2001.

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