Tierney Selected for CSCAA Swim Across America Award


The the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) has named Jimmy Tierney as its 2019 Swim Across America Service Award winner. Tierney will be recognized at the 59th Annual CSCAA Awards Banquet on May 6, 2019 in Myrtle Beach.

In 2015 McKendree University announced the hiring of Jimmy Tierney to launch a new swimming and diving program for men and women in southern Illinois. Jimmy began his journey that fall at a school with no aquatics history and just a drawing of a new pool.

Since then, the Bearcats programs have taken off. The men’s team has climbed from 25th in its initial year to 8th at the recent 2019 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships. His men earned fifteen All American honors and thirteen Honorable mention honors. They also finished 3rd in the highly competitive Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) GLVC championships while winning the most events (7) of any team and breaking four conference records. The women finished 4th at the GLVC and had four swimmers represent McKendree at the NCAA Championships with their highest point total yet.

Tierney began his time at Northwestern in 1988 as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. In 1994, he was named as the head coach for the Wildcats’ women’s program. During his 21-year tenure as head coach at Northwestern, Tierney had a hand in coaching 74 individual NCAA All-America honorees. He guided 26 Big Ten champions along with 39 All Big Ten honorees.

Over those 21 seasons, Tierney led Northwestern to five different top-12 finishes and a total of seven top-20 efforts at the NCAA Division I Championships. He was named the 2000 and 2008 Big Ten Swimming Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the conference championships.

Tierney’s coaching experience is not limited to the collegiate level. He has coached with USA Swimming for many years and has been part of several international competitions. Tierney was the head women’s coach for the US Junior Team that competed in Rome in 2001. In addition, he was a women’s assistant coach for USA Swimming at the 1999 World University Games in Mallorca in 1999 and also the 2007 World University Games held in Bangkok. Tierney has also served seven terms on the board of directors for the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA).

“I had such limited knowledge and no experience about Swim Across America until I took a call from Craig Beardsley shortly after starting my job at McKendree. Little did I know that this would become a passion and labor of love for me. Like many others, I had been affected by cancer back in the early 80’s when I lost my Mom to a brain tumor. She was the one who not only insisted that her children all learn to swim but she instilled the joy of swimming in us. Through the years, I have seen too many people who I love, or connected to friends and family that I love, have to battle this terrible disease. In some small way, I hope my efforts can even make a small difference, along with so many other passionate people that I have met through SAA. I am energized by our leader Rob Butcher and the many loyal soldiers here in St Louis and all across the country. I truly believe that together we can and will save lives.”

About the CSCAA

Founded in 1922, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) is the first professional association of college coaches the United States. The CSCAA is dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming and diving at the collegiate level.

The CSCAA works to

  • protect, promote and expand competitive intercollegiate swimming and diving programs;

  • recognize outstanding achievements by coaches, swimmers and divers;

  • promote communication and cooperation within swimming and diving and with our partner National Governing Bodies, the NCAA, NAIA and Junior College Associations;

  • provide ongoing educational and leadership training for coaches and athletes; and

  • serve as a resource to its membership and for the general public.

About Swim Across America

Swim Across America Inc., is a non-profit dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment. It does so by hosting charity swims and donating the proceeds to a hospital. Since its founding, SAA has granted $75 million to fund cancer research and clinical trials.