“I think that’s one of the coolest things we’ve done,” Bauerle said. “I’m as proud of that as the championships because, as a coach, you always respect programs that are good all the time.”
Bauerle also has been a leading figure in international swimming, which took him to competitions in 31 countries. Bauerle served in six Olympic Games as either head coach, an assistant or personal coach for the U.S. team, including last summer in the Tokyo Games. With Chase Kalisz’s victory in the 400-meter medley there, his UGA athletes have claimed 38 gold medals.
Bauerle’s eventual retirement has been a point of discussion for years. But for one reason or another, the timing was never right.
“No epiphany,” said Bauerle, who informed his team at lunchtime Wednesday. “It’s well thought out, I think. The best way to put it is I feel like it’s just time. We have some great coaches here, and they are game ready. So, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have them to continue the legacy we’ve built over the years.”
Georgia announced Wednesday afternoon the hires of Neil Versfeld as the men’s coach and Stefanie Williams Moreno as the women’s coach. Bauerle has handled both jobs during his tenure.
“It's well thought out, I think. The best way to put it is I feel like it's just time. We have some great coaches here, and they are game ready. So, I don't want to miss the opportunity to have them to continue the legacy we've built over the years."
- Bulldogs coach Jack Bauerle, who is retiring
Bauerle’s association with Georgia actually began when he first came to Athens from Glenside, Pa., on a recruiting trip in the spring of 1970. He never left after signing with the Bulldogs as a butterfly and distance specialist.
Bauerle has served as the head coach of the women’s swimming and diving team since 1979 and the men’s team since 1983. That matches former LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux for the longest tenure of any coach in SEC history. He already became the longest tenured in Georgia athletics history with his 35th season in 2013-14, passing legendary men’s tennis coach Dan Magill for the honor.
“It is a bittersweet moment in Georgia athletics history,” UGA athletic director Josh Brooks said in a statement released by the school Wednesday. “Jack has been the foundation of unparalleled success of our men’s and women’s swimming and diving program for a half a century. While we will miss him on the pool deck, we know that Jack will always be a part of our athletics family, and I look forward to working with him in different capacities as an involved alumnus. We wish him the very best in this next phase of his life.”
As for what’s next, Bauerle couldn’t say. An avid surfer, he said he’ll definitely catch a wave or two somewhere on the globe. And there is a good chance he’ll stay involved in swimming and/or with the university.
“I’m sure I’ll never be fully retired,” Bauerle said. “It really is time to be with family and friends and not miss anything. I don’t like missing things, and I’ve been away from Athens the last six Fourth of Julys. Something might come up, but I’m looking forward to being around more.”