Chad Onken is the CEO and Co-Owner of the Quest Swimming program in his hometown of Midlothian, Virginia. He started with Quest on January 1st, 2019.
Primarily known for the discovery and development of world record holder, NCAA Champion, and 2008/2012 US Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones, Chad has over 20 years of elite championship coaching experience throughout age group, high school, YMCA, and NCAA championship swimming. In addition to being a Level 5 certified coach by the American Swimming Coaches Association, Chad is also a six-time recipient of the ASCA “Award for Coaching Excellence.”
In addition to his duties with Quest, Onken also serves as the Director of International Clinics for the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA). He travels the globe, “coaching the coaches”. He has taught clinics or been a guest speaker throughout the United States, as well as in Australia, Canada, Bahrain, and the UAE.
Additionally, Onken has been an active member of various committees and governance organizations within the YMCA of the USA, NC Swimming, VA swimming and USA Swimming. Besides being a current member of the USA Swimming Coach Advisory Council, he also serves as a member of the VSI Senior Committee and Governance Committee.
Before Quest, Chad served as the Head Coach/Senior Director of Competitive Swimming at the YMCA of the Triangle Area (YOTA) Swim Team in Raleigh, NC from 2006-2018. During his time with the YOTA Swim Team, Chad oversaw the “Golden Age” of the program; breaking several North Carolina state records, coaching a USA Swimming Junior National champion, recording numerous USA Swimming Junior and Senior National time standards, breaking 100+ YOTA team records, winning dozens of YMCA National individual and relay titles, setting a number of YMCA National records, and breaking 3 National Age Group records. Chad led a group of six YOTA athletes to Olympic Trials in 2012 and seven YOTA athletes to Omaha in 2016. YOTA also had success on the international level as well, having multiple athletes qualify to represent the United States in a variety of international competitions. The YMCA of the Triangle Area Swim Team had athletes qualify for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2014-2015 USA National Junior Teams.
Additionally, the YOTA Swim Team was crowned the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Men’s YMCA National Champions and 2014 Women’s YMCA National Champions under Coach Onken’s leadership. Chad’s success has been recognized by USA Swimming, as he was selected to be on the coaching staff for a variety of national teams and select camps. Chad has also been nominated for several Coach of the Year awards, both within NC and throughout the country – winning the 2012 NC Swimming “Coach of the Year” award.
Chad graduated from Florida State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice; while helping the swimming team achieve top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships and qualifying for Olympic Trials. Given a choice to attend law school or coach swimming, Chad decided to give back to a sport that gave him so much.
Chad moved to Raleigh in 2000 as the Head Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at NC State University. In addition to his regular on-deck duties for the Wolfpack, Onken played an instrumental role in the strength and conditioning, team building, mental training, nutritional education and academic development of the swimmers at N.C. State. While at N.C. State, Chad was the primary coach responsible for developing one USA Swimming National “B” Team Member, six US Olympic Trial qualifiers, six NCAA All-Americans, six ACC Champions, 10 school record holders, and five top 100 FINA World Ranked athletes. Furthermore, Onken served as the Head Coach for the N.C. State Aquatics Team during the summertime, where two of his athletes represented the United States in international competition. Chad was also very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Athletes In Action program.
After five years at N.C. State, Coach Onken became the Assistant Swimming Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at national powerhouse Auburn University. During his stint with the Tigers, Onken helped the team capture both the men’s and women’s 2006 NCAA team championship titles. In addition to various administrative and recruiting duties, Chad helped coach seven NCAA Champions, 34 NCAA All-Americans, 13 SEC Champions and 13 Auburn school record-holders.
Having coached alongside some of the best coaches in the business, Chad considers both David Marsh and Dudley Duncan to be his two primary mentors.
Chad is very happily married to the former Lauren Romano, also of Midlothian, Virginia. They are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Marilyn and Charlotte and also have an adorable schnoodle puppy named Bowden.