Coach Nort Thornton, Jr.


2003 ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee

Accomplishments:

• Coached numerous United States teams in world competition
• 1979: Coached the U.S. squad in the FINA Cup in Tokyo, Japan
• 1981: Coached the U.S. team at the World University Games
• 1983: Assistant Coach for the United States team at the Pan American Games at Caracas, Venezuela.
• 1986: Assistant Coach for the United States team at the World Championships in Madrid, Spain
• 1997: Assistant Coach for the United States team at the World Championships in Perth, Australia
• 1997: Assistant Coach at the Pan Pacific Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
• California: Dual-meet record of 231-85; two NCAA team titles, numerous individual champions.
• Named National Coach of the Year twice and was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times.
 
California head coach emeritus, Nort Thornton, is one of the deans of college coaching in the United States and was the longest tenured coach at Cal before retiring after 33 years at the helm of the Golden Bears men’s swimming program in July 2007.
 
Through the years, his Cal squads won 48 individual and relay NCAA championships and 108 Pac-10 individual, relay and diving titles. His 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams also captured Pac-10 team championships.
 
In 2006-07, Coach Thornton’s Bears compiled a 5-3 dual-meet record (2-2 Pac-10) and claimed second place at the Pac-10 Championships. Cal also won three individual conference titles, with O’Neil claiming the 200 fly, junior Dominik Meichtry capturing the 200 freestyle and sophomore David Russell taking the 100 backstroke. Coach Thornton started his Cal career during the 1974-75 season. For 28 of the 33 years he coached the Bears, Thornton’s teams finished ranked in the top 10 in the national polls.
 
A product of San Jose State, Coach Thornton led the Bears to NCAA team titles in 1979 and 1980 and produced a long list of stellar All-Americans. He has an even more impressive collection of Olympians, including world record holder Matt Biondi, Anthony Ervin, who won the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Duje Draganja, who took silver in the 50-meter free at the 2004 Athens Olympics. During Coach Thornton’s tenure as Cal head coach, 48 Cal athletes represented several countries in the Olympic Games, winning 29 medals, including 14 gold, 10 silver and five bronze. In addition, Milorad Cavic and current Cal sophomore Nathan Adrian, swimmers Coach Thornton coached while still Bears head coach, earned medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Cavic earning a silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly and Adrian taking home a gold medal as part of the United States’ 400-meter freestyle relay.
 
A past president of the American Swimming Coaches Association, Coach Thornton has served on the ASCA Board of Directors and is a past member of the NCAA Rules Committee. He was also awarded the National Collegiate and Scholastic Award, which is in the International Hall of Fame, for his contributions to swimming as a healthful recreation activity for schools and colleges.