USA Synchro announced on September 14 the hiring of Spanish Olympian Andrea Fuentes as the new head coach for the senior national team, following the resignation of Lolli Montico, who had been in that position since 2015.
Fuentes was part of her Spain’s national team from 1999 to 2013, and contributed to the rise of the nation on the international stage. She is one of the most decorated Spanish swimmers with four Olympic, 16 world and 16 European medals. She competed at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, notably as part of the duet in the last two.
This is the first time Fuentes is named a national team coach, and the fourth person to enter that role in the U.S. in less than 10 years.
“[…] My motivation is very high,” she said in the official announcement. “I have a special enthusiasm to work for USA Synchro as this was the country that created this wonderful sport. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I know it will be a big challenge, but my long-term goal is to do what I did as a swimmer, to go from 12th in the world to an Olympic medal.”
The U.S. national team took a dip in the rankings shortly after the 2008 Olympic Games, where it placed fifth in team and tied with Japan. It was the last time the nation qualified a full team to the Olympics. It has since faced some turmoil internally while encountering difficulties trying to maintain a steady national team roster and keeping a stable head coach at the helm of the program.
The current roster is mostly made of junior swimmers, and the challenge for Fuentes will be to retain her athletes in the elite program, especially once they finish high-school, if she wants to reach her long term goals. The U.S. culture is very focused on university athletics, so in the last few seasons and even this past year, national team swimmers simply head off to university to pursue an education and to swim for their college synchro team instead of staying with the national team full-time.
It’s a big but exciting challenge to bring USA back to the top that many have tackled before her, like current Spanish head coach Mayuko Fujiki or French head coach Julie Fabre. Fuentes is a great addition to the staff, and we can only hope she will succeed at bringing back Team USA in the conversation for the Tokyo Olympics.