Mark Schubert Steps Down as Head Coach at Mission Viejo Nadadores

Mark Schubert Steps Down as Head Coach at Mission Viejo Nadadores

Mark Schubert has been through the drill nearly a dozen times, perhaps more than any coach in swimming history. When an Olympic cycle culminates, there’s a rest and a re-evaluation before committing to the next four years. There’s a regrouping to assess what the priorities are and where a coach of Schubert’s pedigree wants to be when the next Olympics convene.

At 72, Schubert felt that after this most recent and most unique Olympic cycle, the time was right to take a step back.

Schubert resigned on Thursday as the head coach of Mission Viejo Nadadores, the club at which he made his name in the 1970s as one of the world’s premier swim coaches and where he returned in 2016 to keep Mission Viejo atop the American swimming world.

“After the Olympics and with COVID and everything, it was a pretty hard couple of years,” Schubert told Swimming World. “We had a successful Trials, and I was proud of how the athletes did in the Olympics. And it just seemed like the right time to me.”

Schubert is looking to spend more time with his wife, Joke, and his grandchildren. He didn’t close the door on ever coaching again, however, saying, “I don’t know what opportunities may come up, but I’m always open to opportunity, and you never know.”

He’s accomplished just about all there is to achieve on the pool deck, bringing a unique training approach to Mission Viejo that revolutionized American swim coaching. The 1997 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame started at Mission Viejo in 1972, after the University of Kentucky graduate spent a year coaching at Cuyahoga Falls High School in Ohio.

Photo Courtesy: Chris Georges World Championship 1982

Schubert was at Mission Viejo from 1972-85. He then spent three seasons at Mission Bay Makos Swim Club in Florida, and won two NCAA titles in four seasons as the coach of the University of Texas women’s team. He won a women’s NCAA title in 14 successful seasons at the University of Southern California. He was hired in 2006 as the U.S. national team head coach and general manager.

Schubert joined Golden West Swim Club in California in 2011 and returned to Mission Viejo in 2016.

His unyielding approach to distance training grew a Mission Viejo program of 55 swimmers to more than 500 within a decade, the blue-and-gold juggernaut winning AAU and USS Club national championships and raising Olympians. A Mission Viejo swimmer has been on every American Olympic team since 1976, when Brian Goodell won the men’s 1500 freestyle at the Montreal Games. Goodell also won the 400 free at those Games.

That remains a personal highlight for Schubert, as does the first national championship won in 1974, in the women’s category, won alongside the George Haines-led Santa Clara Swim Club.

“I remember standing in the locker room, soaking wet, and George coming up and congratulating me,” Schubert said. “And that was the thrill of a lifetime.”

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Mark Schubert during my swimming career,” Goodell said in a statement. “He coached me from the age of 12, all the way through my glorious Olympic and college career. Mark’s dedication and hard work helped thousands of athletes achieve their goals and dreams, including dozens of Olympians, and impacting athletes from all-over the world. Mark’s passion and intensity to build the Mission Viejo Nadadores into a nationally ranked team created one of the most successful swimming and diving programs in the world, a legacy we value and honor today.

“I am sorry to see Mark Schubert leave the helm of the Nadadores, and I want to congratulate and wish the best to Mark and his wife, Joke, on the next phase of their lives.”

Schubert would eventually down Santa Clara’s record for national titles with 44 (18 women’s, eight men’s, 18 combined). Schubert was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic teams in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1996. He served as the women’s head coach in 1992 and 2004, and the men’s coach in 2000, not to mention coaching numerous Team USA delegations to international meets.

His Olympians are almost too numerous to name: Goodell, Shirley Babashoff, Mary T. Meagher, Tiffany Cohen, Mike O’Brien, Dara Torres, Sippy Woodhead, Rich Saeger, Janet Evans, Brad Bridgewater and Kristine Quance, just to name a few.  At the Tokyo Olympics, the Nadadores were represented by Haley Anderson, Zach Apple, Michael Brinegar and Annie Lazor.

Schubert’s career hasn’t been without controversy. He was the subject of a lawsuit (since dropped) and had an acrimonious split with USA Swimming.

Things have changed greatly since Schubert took over Mission Viejo as a 23-year-old in the early 1970s. But one thing that has kept him in the sport is the constant relationship between hard work and success, the cornerstone of his tutelage.

“I think what stays the same is, work works,” he said. “It’s a blue-collar sport, and people who are willing to work at it, whether you’re a sprinter or a distance swimmer, the work is different but it’s still up to the athlete to get the job done. When you stand on the blocks at the Olympic Games, all eight guys are probably equally compared, but it’s the guys that are strongest mentally and do the work that are going to succeed.”