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KC Blazers announce hiring of another Olympic caliber coach
POSTED: 07/15/2010
The Blazers is a competitive swim team sponsored by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District with over 500 swimmers participating throughout the Kansas City area. The team has a long tradition of excellence, developing swimmers from the beginning level to the Olympic level. The team’s first and only head coach was Pete Malone, who retired earlier this year. Under Coach Malone, who is a member of the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Blazers routinely dominated local and regional swim meets, and have had five swimmers represent the United States of America on Olympic teams.

Gardner Howland is well qualified to carry on the Blazers’ tradition of excellence. Coach Howland comes to the Blazers from Conejo Simi Aquatics in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and prior to that from Pilot Aquatics Club in Knoxville, Tenn. Coach Howland has a long list of accomplishments in the swimming community achieved during his 27 years as a coach. These include placing a gold medal winning swimmer on the 2000 United States Olympic Team, and placing many swimmers on teams for the Pan American Games, World University Games, Goodwill Games, and National Junior teams. He is also a two-time head coach of the United States National Junior Team, and was an assistant coach for the United States Goodwill Games Team.

“I am very excited to join the Kansas City Blazers, which is one of the premier swim organizations in the country, and I look forward to growing and enhancing its great swimming tradition,” said Howland.

Howland will be joining an experienced staff of six full-time and 28 part-time swim coaches when the team jumps in the water for its 36th season.

Jill Geller, Superintendent of Recreation for the Johnson County Park & Recreation District, and chair of the head coach search committee, noted Gardner’s passion for the sport. “We were impressed by Gardner’s commitment to excellence for both the individual swimmer, as well as for the overall team. We are thrilled to have a coach of Gardner’s caliber join the Blazers’ staff, and look forward to continuing to achieve excellence in the water at all levels.”

For more information about the Blazers swim team, please visit

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