Longtime swim coach retires, passes program off to proteges

Longtime Quest swim coach retires

MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) - Quest Swimming in Midlothian is undergoing a changing of the guard. Longtime head coach Dudley Duncan has retired and is passing the reins to Chad Onken and John Smithson as co-head coaches.

Duncan took over head coaching duties at Quest in 2003. He’s been coaching in the Richmond area since 1978 and began in the profession in 1968. Duncan says originally he thought he would become a wrestling coach, but once he began coaching swimming he never stopped.

Quest has seen great growth since Duncan took over, as participation grew from less than 100 to the current enrollment of 260 swimmers. 2018 saw the program honored by USA Swimming as one of the top 100 swim clubs in the country.

There are many career highlights for Duncan and among them is coaching two Olympians. He helped develop Whitney Hedgepath, who took part in the 1988 and 1996 games, and Rada Owens, who was an Olympic swimmer in 2000, though he says he’s always enjoyed coaching the middle level talent the most.

“When you have kids that are very talented, they seem to be good no matter what you do,” says Duncan. “When you have kids that aren’t very, you can’t help them as much. But the kids that are in the middle of that bell curve really make your team and benefit a lot.”

Onken and Smithson both credit Duncan for helping to shape them as coaches and as people, calling him a mentor.

Duncan is stepping away to pursue business ventures. He will remain the CEO of Quest Swimming.

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