The Nantucket Athletic Department announced Tuesday evening via email to the community that Dylan Jones has been hired as the next head coach of the Nantucket varsity boys and girls swim teams. Jones is currently a wellness teacher at the high school and has experience coaching club swimming here on the island, as well as over a decade of experience coaching down in the Washington D.C. area on a year-round basis.
"I'm excited to get going," Jones said. "I know some of the kids already (from his job as a wellness teacher at Nantucket High School). So I'm excited to get to know them as a coach now."
Jones said the success of the program historically immediately grabbed his attention and drew him to the job. He said to start he will be focusing on growing the number of male swimmers competing for the high school this year and in years to come given the smaller quantity of swimmers currently in the program.
"I look at the rich history and that's the kind of program you want to come into - one that has had a lot of success for a long amount of time," Jones said. "So that's exciting. Then looking a little specifically on the boys side, I'm sort of excited to see if we can grow that side of the varsity swimming. We have some talented swimmers, but hopefully looking to see if we can get some some new kids and some younger kids so we can keep that tradition going and rebuild on the boys side a little more. I think there is a lot there. I think there is a lot of potential with the boys. When I first got here, I was helping out with some of the year-round swimming. So I know some of the middle school boys. Hopefully I can reach out to them and see if some of them might be interested in swimming for the high school.
Jones, 42, grew up and swam in the D.C. area. year-round, which he said has one of the highest densities of swimmers in pools in the country. He can recall days where he was at meets with the likes of Michael Phelps and swimming against successful swimmers such as Ed Moses, who went on to become an Olympic Gold Medalist.
Jones eventually transitioned to a career as a year-round coach for 12 years at Machine Aquatics, a preeminent year-round private swimming club on the East Coast universally recognized as a leader in compassionate coaching and competitive swimming instruction for young swimmers, as well as YSSC - which is a high-end, year-round YMCA swim program.
"It's something I've always done and did for a long time," he said. "Eventually I realized I didn't want to do it full time for the rest of my life. That's why I sort of made a switch and got into education."
The Athletic Department released the following statement in an email announcing the decision and why they are excited about this new hire.
“The Nantucket Public Schools Athletic Department is excited to announce the hiring of Dylan Jones as the next head coach for our Varsity Boys & Girls Swim Team. Coach Jones will be bringing a great deal of experience, dedication, and enthusiasm to our team. We believe that his leadership qualities will contribute to the continued success of our swim program. Coach Jones has a solid background in swimming and a passion for coaching. We are confident that with his abundance of swimming knowledge he will continue to reinforce the positive culture that has always been a part of our swimming program.
"Coach Jones is currently one of the Nantucket High School Wellness teachers and has already developed positive relationships with many of the swimmers. Having these positive relationships established already will only help create a healthy and enjoyable environment for the swimmers on the pool deck."
Jones is the second head coach in as many seasons - taking over for NHS alum and former head coach Sophie Davies, who led the program for just one season last year.
Davies originally took over for former head coach Jim Pignato, who resigned from the position after 19 seasons last fall after refusing to comply with proposed changes to the program's coaching structure that he was told were being newly added and enforced.
Those changes, according to athletes and other sources with knowledge of the proposed modifications being made to the coaching structure, included that Pignato would no longer be allowed to coach the girls swim team and that the duty would be handed over to former assistant coach Natalie Thompson. These sources said both coaches disagreed with the decision and felt dividing the teams wasn’t in the best interest of the program - which led to both Pignato and Thompson, as well as former assistant coach Olivia Gallugi, resigning from their coaching positions.
According to a tweet from the Nantucket Athletic Department, Jones will be the head coach of both the boys and girls teams. Davies was also the head coach of both the boys and girls teams last season, so it appears the proposed changes to the program that pushed the three longtime coaches to resign were never implemented.
Pignato, Thompson, and Gallugi all declined to comment on the situation when asked last fall.