Mark Schubert, who once described his position as coach of the Mission Viejo Nadadores swim club as "the best coaching job in America," is leaving the team he guided to international prominence to become the coach of a new program in Boca Raton, Fla., a source close to the Schubert family confirmed Saturday.
Jim Brady, a Florida developer, has called a press conference Monday to introduce Schubert, 36, as the coach of the program being formed by the Mission Bay Development Co.
The Mission Bay Aquatic Training Center is part of a $200-million development in Boca Raton. The 565-acre project is being patterned after Mission Viejo, with swimming, diving and tennis facilities and an emphasis on recreation and outdoor activities. A ground-breaking ceremony for the development was held this year, and the swim complex is expected to be completed early in 1986.
The source said that "at least two" of the Nadadores' world class swimmers will leave Mission Viejo to join Schubert in Mission Bay. Many of the Nadadores' top swimmers live with host families in Mission Viejo in order to train under Schubert, so it is expected that his departure will dilute what has become the nation's most successful swim club program.
The Mission Viejo Co. is also expected to make an announcement Monday regarding Schubert's future. Schubert was not available for comment Saturday. His wife, Joke, declined to comment.
Schubert became coach of the Mission Viejo program in 1972, at age 23. By 1974, when the Nadadores won their first national championship, it was apparent that he was in the process of building a dynasty. Characterized as a disciplinarian with a commitment to grueling workouts, Schubert gained a reputation as one of the nation's premier swim coaches, specializing in the development of distance swimmers.
Schubert was named the American Swim Coach Assn.'s Coach of the Year in 1975, 1976 and 1981. His swimmers have set 21 world records, and five--Brian Goodell, Shirley Babashoff, Mike O'Brien, Tiffany Cohen and Rich Saeger--are Olympic gold medalists. He was the head coach of the U.S. team at the 1982 World Championships in Ecuador and an assistant for both the 1976 and 1984 Olympic teams.
Mission Viejo became known as the mecca of American swimming, and top swimmers from throughout the world migrated there to become part of Schubert's program. In the Phillips 66/U.S. Swimming Long Course National Championships held last week at the Mission Viejo Swim Complex, the Nadadores won the overall and women's team titles, to surpass Santa Clara as the winningest U.S. swim club ever.
After that meet, Schubert responded to reporters' questions regarding the possibility of him leaving the Nadadores to accept the job at Mission Bay.
"I haven't made a decision on that yet," he said. "Over the years, I have always decided to stay because this place has so much to offer. But I owe it to myself and to my family to keep my eyes open, too."
Schubert, a 1971 graduate of the University of Kentucky, has been in contact with the Mission Bay developers for several months. When Larry Liebowitz, a former Schubert assistant, left the Nadadores in June to join the staff at Mission Bay, there was speculation that Schubert would join him.
It was apparent that Schubert was impressed with the plans developers had for the Mission Bay complex. In an interview with the West Palm Beach Post in June, Schubert was asked to compare the new facility to the complex at Mission Viejo. "We have a magnificent, Olympic-size pool here," he said. "But that facility will have two, and it's very unusual to have two, 50-meter pools in the same facility."