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March 10, 2010

PLU Swimming Coach Johnson Announces Retirement

Jim Johnson, who led the Pacific Lutheran men's and women's swimming teams to a total of 18 Northwest Conference championships in 31 years as head coach, has announced his retirement effective May 31.

Johnson will remain involved in the PLU swimming program in the role of fund raising and donor development.

After coaching at Pacific Lutheran for 30 years, Johnson missed the 2008-09 season in a winning fight against cancer. He returned to PLU for one more season before deciding to retire. He completed his final season as Lutes swimming head coach in February at the Northwest Conference meet.

"Pacific Lutheran swimmers have long benefitted from Jim's coaching and passion for swimming," said Laurie Turner, PLU director of athletics. "He has always placed great emphasis on the team nature of a sport that is often viewed as an individual endeavor, and the athletes and the program itself are better for it. He will be missed at Pacific Lutheran University and in the Northwest Conference." 

Under Johnson's direction, the PLU women's swimming team won Northwest Conference championships from 1983-92 (going unbeaten in conference duals during that time) and also in 1996. The PLU men garnered seven conference championships under Johnson. While at Pacific Lutheran, he earned Northwest Conference Coach of the Year honors three times.

During Johnson's 31-year tenure, Pacific Lutheran swimming teams compiled a 339 wins and 254 losses record, a .572 winning percentage. He achieved a milestone in his PLU coaching career on Nov. 12, 2005, when the Lutes defeated Pacific, giving him his 300th career victory at PLU.

While the school was a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member, PLU placed in the top 20 at nationals every year under Johnson's tutelage.

The NAIA Coaches Association and the College Swim Coaches Association both named Johnson the 1985 NAIA Women's Coach of the Year. He is past president of the NAIA Swim Coaches Association and a former board member of the College Swim Coaches Association. In addition, the Rocky Mountain College graduated earned NAIA District I Coach of the Years honors four times.

In addition to coaching at PLU, Johnson managed the Pacific Lutheran pool. In that role, he helped develop a strong tie between the university and the Parkland-Spanaway community by offering summer swimming lessons, in addition to providing competitive swimming opportunities.

A search to find Johnson's replacement is now underway.

- PLU -