Anthony Nesty makes history as the first Black head coach to lead the U.S. swimming team to Olympics

BY Ben Ebuka Oji October 2, 2023 12:11 PM EDT
Anthony Nesty. Photo courtesy: UAA
Anthony Nesty. Photo courtesy: UAA

Anthony Nesty, former 1988 Olympic gold medalist in 100-metre butterfly and the current Head Coach of the University of Florida’s swimming team – Florida Gators, will become the first ever Black Head Coach of a U.S. Olympics Swimming team.

The Gator’s helmsman was announced as the U.S. Olympic men’s Head Coach on September 21. Similarly, Todd DeSorbo, the Head Coach of the University of Virginia swim team, was named the Olympic women’s Head Coach.

The selection by the USA Swimming means that Anthony Nesty will lead the country’s swimming team to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

“I’m excited to be the men’s head Olympic coach in Paris,” Nesty said in a statement released by USA Swimming. “Todd and I look forward to coaching these athletes to the best of their abilities in Paris next summer.”

This recent honor is among many ‘firsts’ and history-making exploits in Anthony Nesty’s career. During his competitive days, Nesty, representing Suriname, made history as the first Black male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal when he made one of the biggest upsets in Olympics swimming, defeating Matt Biondi at the 1988 Seoul Games. He made another remarkable history in 2022 when he became the first Black coach to lead a U.S. swim team at the World Championships. Nesty became the second Black Assistant Coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team after Chris Martin, who was an Assistant Coach at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Nesty and Todd DeSorbo will reprise the roles they held at the recent World Championship held in July this year, where the U.S. team won 38 medals for a 15th consecutive World Championships. Both veteran swimmers were Assistant Coaches at the Tokyo Olympics, where the U.S. team won 30 gold medals.

In 2021, within four months, Nesty became the Coach of three individual Olympic gold medalists – Bobby Fink, Katie Ledecky, and Caeleb Dressel.

Nesty, who is currently the only Surinamese athlete to win an Olympic medal in any event, in an interview with the Associated Press, acknowledged the significance of a prominent Black Coach being part of the swimming team.

“You know you’re a role model,” he said. “You have to take that very seriously. Maybe it’s why I work so hard at what I do. I try to be the best Anthony Nesty can be.”

The U.S. Olympic swim team will be decided at the upcoming June trials at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the top two athletes in each individual event will make the team, including up to six per gender in the 100 and 200-meter freestyles for relays.

Commending the appointment of the two renowned swimming coaches, Lindsay Mintenko, the Director of the U.S. Swimming, said, “I am thrilled coaches DeSorbo and Nesty will be joining us in Paris and am looking forward to the experience and leadership they will bring to the games.”