One of the nation's top head swimming coaches, Jay Holmes will be entering his 10th season at the helm of the Aggie swimming program in 2013-14.
Holmes spent 18 years as an assistant coach at Texas A&M and was a main contributor to the Aggie string of nine-straight top 25 finishes at the NCAA Championships that he inherited.
In nine seasons as head coach, Holmes has extended the Aggies' top 25 streak to 18 straight with nine more top 25 finishes, including last year's No. 24 showing at the NCAA Championships. Texas A&M is one of just 11 teams nationally that have finished in top 25 at the NCAA Championships every year since 1996. The other teams are: Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, California, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Stanford, Tennessee and Texas.
Holmes was voted the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004-05 in his first season as head coach after guiding the Aggies to a runner-up team finish at the Big 12 Championships and No. 15 finish at the NCAA Championships. Last year Holmes was voted the Big 12 Coach of the Meet after another runner-up Big 12 finish.
Holmes, a former A&M swimmer and longtime assistant coach, was named the sixth head swimming coach at Texas A&M on July 14, 2004.
Coach Holmes' hard work, experience and dedication to the A&M program earned him the opportunity to lead the program that he's spent most of the last 25 years as a part of.
"I have been able to be a part of our program in all sorts of roles, from recruit to swimmer, student assistant coach, assistant coach, and now head coach," Holmes said. "There have been a lot of changes since I first got here in the fall of 1980. For example, our facilities are now some of the best anywhere. However, what has been fun for me is seeing many things stay the same. Texas A&M continues to have such a unique spirit to it. Obviously since I have been at A&M a while I am so used to it ... it's normal. I continue to get reminded of it when I talk to other people who see it for the first time as a 'new thing'. That's one of ways it continues to be special to me."
Over most of the past 25-plus years, Holmes has been the person most attentive to the details associated with being a coach of one of the nation's top swimming programs. He points out that all of the effort is worthwhile when he sees the athletes realize that their hard work does indeed pay off.
"I really enjoy the process part of my job. That's one of the things I learned from my swimming career here at A&M that has carried over to my coaching career. I coach because I enjoy the process, the journey, the daily grind. Everyone has distractions and hurdles in their life. The key is to be focused, stay positive and keep pounding. Hard work will always come back to you."
His hard work has paid great dividends in the pool over the years as well. Nearly all of A&M's school records have been set during Holmes' tenure at A&M, with many of them coming over the past three years.
Holmes' work as an assistant coach was rewarded with a berth on the coaching staff of the 2001 USA Open Water team. He coached former A&M standout Patrick Dideum to a 13th-place finish at the Open Water World Championships in Fukouka, Japan, that summer.
Holmes first came to A&M in the fall of 1980 after graduating from Corsicana High School. He was recruited by then-first-year head coach Mel Nash to be a breaststroke/butterfly specialist. Little did Nash know that he would end up getting much more than just a swimmer.
"Every once in a while, I still look around and wonder, 'How did I wind up here?'" Holmes says with a laugh. "My dad, A&M Class of '64, is still thrilled by that too. Years ago, I was just happy to have the opportunity of a roster spot. I am blessed to be here."
Holmes swam four years for the Aggies, eventually earning a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1984. After completing his eligibility, Holmes served as a student assistant coach in the fall of 1984 while completing with coursework.
Holmes and his brother opened a sign company back home in Corsicana in the spring of 1985, but his heart remained at the pool. In the fall of 1986, he accepted Nash's offer to become the assistant coach for the men's and women's swimming teams at A&M.
"I really did not consider coaching as a profession until I was in the fifth year of my undergrad as Mel's student assistant coach. Sometime during that year Mel asked me if I had ever considered coaching. At that point I realized that it would be a blast to go to work in something that you could have fun and get paid."
Holmes served as the assistant for both squads until 1995. That year, the year that A&M unveiled the Student Rec Center Natatorium, former Athletic Director Wally Groff made the decision to hire a coaching staff specifically for the women's program, which would allow Nash and Holmes to concentrate on the men.
He is married to the former Annette Grizzle, a University of Texas graduate from Garland, Texas. Jay and Annette have one daughter, Meredith Joy, and one son, Cooper Samuel.
The Holmes File