York YMCA hires new coach for standout swimming program

  • John Nelson has been promoted to head coach of the York YMCA swimming program.
  • Nelson replaces Michael Brooks, who has taken a similar job in North Carolina.
  • York YMCA swimmers have excelled on the national and international stage in recent years.

The YMCA of York and York County announced Wednesday that John Nelson has been named head coach and director of competitive swimming, succeeding Michael Brooks.

Brooks has accepted a similar position with a club in North Carolina.

John Nelson is the new leader of the York YMCA Swimming Program.

Nelson has served as an assistant coach under Brooks for three years, helping to elevate the program to national prominence.

Under Brooks, the York YMCA has produced a number of standout swimmers, including Spring Grove's Hali Flickinger, who starred at the University of Georgia and recently finished seventh in the Rio Olympics in 200-meter butterfly.

In addition, in the last two years, the No. 1 female swimming recruit in the nation, according to Swim Swam, was a York YMCA swimmer. West York's Courtney Harnish earned the honor for the 2017 recruiting class, while Meghan Small, from Lineboro, Maryland, received the same recognition for the 2016 class. She's going on to swim at the University of Tennessee this fall. Flickinger and Small are just two of a number of York YMCA swimmers who went on to earn NCAA Division I scholarships.

“We wish Michael the best in North Carolina,” YMCA board chair Brian Kottcamp said in a news release. “He has been a great asset to our YMCA and we are extremely appreciative of all he has done here with the team. With that, we know John will do a marvelous job continuing to grow our program and ensuring that all swimmers have the chance to become Olympians.”

Nelson joined York YMCA Swimming as assistant head coach in 2013, bringing with him years of experience in the sport. Brooks and Nelson have produced numerous individual national champions and trained athletes that have set YMCA national and relay national records. Recently, the team won the Women’s Short Course National Championship.

Before joining the York YMCA, Nelson held the position of head coach of the Piedmont Family YMCA swim team. In just one year under Nelson’s leadership, the team doubled in size to nearly 300 swimmers and won both the district and regional YMCA championships. Coaching a range of swimmers, from novice to senior, Nelson aided multiple swimmers to YMCA All-America honors.

EDITORIAL: Hali Flickinger beat odds, made us proud

Nelson has also served as head coach of the Heidelberg Sea Lions Swim Team in Germany, head coach for the DOD Heidelberg High School and spent five years as the age group coach of the Charlottesville Virginia Gators.

“My years of experience in both public education and professional coaching have given me the tools I need to help York swimmers meet their goals,” Nelson said in the news release. “I’m excited about this new opportunity and I look forward to building on the success of the team.”