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Lynch won't be back for Sailors

Principal says change is needed in Newport Harbor boys' aquatics program. Clay Jorth steps in to coach swim team.

April 08, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Jason Lynch's firing as boys' water polo and swimming coach at Newport Harbor High is now permanent, Newport Harbor Principal Michael Vossen said Friday night.

Vossen said the final decision was made Friday. Vossen said two separate meetings were held at the school to announce the news, one with Newport aquatics players and one with parents.

Vossen declined to elaborate on the reasoning why Lynch was dismissed, calling it a personnel matter, although Lynch remains employed at the school as a science teacher.

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"I can say a change is necessary for the program," Vossen said.

Lynch did not return a message left on his cell phone Friday night.

Newport Harbor senior water polo player and swimmer Chris Whitelegge said the players' meeting included Vossen, athletic director Mike Zimmerman and assistant coach Corey Delahunt. It also included Newport Harbor alumnus Clay Jorth, who Vossen said will be the interim boys' swimming coach.

"They just told us [Lynch] wasn't coming back as coach," Whitelegge said. "They told us they want us to keep focused on swimming, and that they have no power over the club program."

Whitelegge said he didn't know if Lynch planned to continue coaching for the Newport Water Polo Foundation.

Lynch was originally removed as boys' swimming and water polo coach Monday for an indefinite period. Whitelegge, a UC Santa Barbara-bound goalie who was the Sunset League MVP in boys' water polo last season, said he was surprised at the news.

"It's very disappointing," Whitelegge said. "He was a great coach and I don't know why he'd lose his job. And he's a great person. He was way more than just a water polo coach."

Lynch was in his 11th year as boys' water polo and swimming coach for the Sailors. He led Newport Harbor to the CIF Southern Section Division I title in boys' water polo in 2007, and the Sailors are annually one of the top programs in Division I. He has also served as USA Water Polo National Youth, Junior and Cadet team coaches.

In swimming, the Sailors have won three straight Sunset League titles.

Corona del Mar boys' water polo and swimming coach Barry O'Dea said he was "a little shocked" at the news of Lynch's firing.

"He's a good coach," O'Dea said after his Sea Kings defeated University on Friday. "He's been solid at Newport for as long as I can remember."

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