BLOOMINGTON – As Ray Looze wraps up his 16th season leading Indiana University’s Swimming programs, he is set to coach the U.S. Olympic team a second time.
Looze will assist 53 athletes Team USA is taking to Tokyo, a responsibility he was unsure he would have since the pandemic pushed the games back.
“It’s been five long years. This year was the hardest year I’ve been through from a coaching perspective,” Looze said. “I had a lot of doubt this past year as to would we be ready, had we done enough physical preparation throughout the year.”
Hard work paid off, especially for Looze’s Hoosiers. He will coach five IU swimmers at the Olympics. But, Looze knows everyone is eager to beat Team USA, which leads the world with 553 medals collected since 1896.
“The world’s kind of caught up to us if you look at the world rankings. We got our work cut out for us at Tokyo,” he said. “But then again, our kids have been through so much that I feel like we are really battle hardened.”
Ultimately, Looze hopes to take the talent he has tested at IU over the years and help make their Olympic dreams come true.
“The Olympic dream is so special. To help somebody achieve that is incredibly gratifying,” Looze said. “When they get named to the team, or they make it, that feeling is amazing.”
Arguably Looze’s most notable Olympian is two-time Olympic gold medalist Lilly King from Evansville, Indiana. She and Looze made their Olympic debuts together at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“Probably a little bit easier this time around than last time. I think we were still learning from each other, learning how to communicate with each other in Rio. Now, we’re seasoned vets,” King said. “We know how it works and how to do it. I’m just excited to make more memories. These trips I feel like are big steps in the relationships you form with your teammates and coaches.”
The Olympics in Tokyo start July 23.