The Lawrence Aquahawks is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a program of swimming instruction for competition for the youth of Lawrence, Douglas County, and surrounding communities. The Aquahawks is open to all youth who have completed basic swimming instruction subject to the availability of space in the program. The club is operated by the parents of swimmers who annually elect a board of directors to manage club operations. The board is responsible for hiring the head coach, providing oversight of the club’s operations, and coordinating fund raising and volunteer activities.

The Aquahawk program is affiliated with USA Swimming, an organization that governs amateur swimming throughout the country. Each Aquahawk swimmer must join USA Swimming in order to be eligible to swim for the Aquahawk program. In addition, the club is an active member of Missouri Valley Swimming, which is a division of USA Swimming.

While not affiliated with the City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, the Aquahawks work closely with the City, USD 497, and Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in scheduling pool time. Without this close cooperation, the Aquahawk program would not be possible.

The Aquahawk program operates year round. Swim practices are held at the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, and Haskell Indian Nations University. Practice times and locations are established each swim season and are subject to change if weather is a factor.

The Aquahawks celebrated over 40 years of swimming in 2008. In those 40+ years of tradition, the Aquahawks have had numerous swimmers go on to compete and swim at the collegiate level, become NCAA All-American’s, Olympic Trial Qualifiers, graduate college, and bring their children back to Lawrence to swim for the Aquahawks.

Before the founding of the Aquahawks in 1968, Lawrence had four small swim teams, each working at a private club in the city with a separate coach for each team. These teams scheduled dual meets during the summer and the season was capped by the Douglas County Age Group Swimming and Diving Championships held at Holiday Park Pool. In the summer of 1968, the parents and swimmers of these teams combined to form the Lawrence Swim Club, the original name of the Aquahawks.

One of the first tasks for the new club was to become actively involved in the campaign to support a bond issue for a new municipal pool. The passage of the bond issue provided a facility where the entire team could train together. When the new municipal pool opened for the 1969 season, it was quickly hailed as the premier facility in Eastern Kansas and the Missouri Valley, LSC.

Bill Barnes served as the first coach for the new club and was assisted by Bob Hines and Bob Russell, two KU swimmers. Bill’s son, Brent, is credited with inventing the club mascot, the Aquahawk, while Bill’s wife, Jo Barnes, was the first to put green and yellow trunks on the waterborne Jayhawks. By 1973, the team was well established with approximately 100 registered swimmers.

In 1977, Gary Kempf became head coach. Under Gary’s leadership, the team began to expand beyond a summer program by swimming at the KU pool during semester breaks and in the late spring.

By the late 1970’s, the lack of an indoor pool in Lawrence was a serious constraint on the ability of the club to improve and expand its programs. Once again, Aquahawk families played an important role in promoting the construction of an indoor facility. Finally, in 1980, the Carl Knox Natatorium was opened at Lawrence High School under the combined direction of USD 497 and the City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. With the addition of an indoor practice facility, the Aquahawks became a year round program.

The Aquahawk board of directors hired Dorothy Kempf in 1988 as the club’s first full-time head coach. The club continued to expand in size under Dorothy’s leadership, but the lack of pool space at the high school pool became a serious constraint. In 1991, Haskell Indian Nations University permitted the club to use the HINU pool on a limited basis.

In 1992, Bryan Beatty was hired as head coach. With his guidance and added pool space, the team grew from 100 members to about 160 members.

Several significant events occurred in 1998 for the Aquahawks. In October, 1998, after a nationwide search by the Board of Directors, Brian Barnes was hired as the Aquahawks new Head Coach. Also in 1998, the Aquahawks became active and vocal supporters of a plan that resulted in the City Commission approving a new Indoor Aquatic Center to be built at Free State High School. The Indoor Aquatic Center opened in June 2001 and includes a 50 meter pool as well as a family/recreation pool. The Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center now serves as the main location for swim meets sponsored by the Aquahawks.

In April 2012 Justin Clossen was named Head Coach of the Lawrence Aquahawks.  Justin has a long history with the Aquahawks and has enlisted a staff of dedicated professionals to continue to build on the great tradition that is the Lawrence Aquahawks. 

Justin has over 11 years of coaching experience at all levels. His coaching experience includes stints with the Metro Aquatics Swim Team (IA), Cedar Rapids Aquatic Association (IA), City of Plano (TX), the Lawrence Aquahawks (KS), and Team Greenville (SC). He has coached all level of swimmers from beginners up through Junior and Senior national qualifiers. Coach Justin also served multiple times on the Missouri Valley Zone Coaching Staff and Zone Training Camp Staff.

Coach Justin is a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was a Junior National Champion in the 100 Back, Senior Natinal Qualifier, and a collegiate swimmer at KU.

Justin and his wife Jessica live in Lawrence and have 2 children Chloe & Joey.  785-393-2468

Office / Mailing Address: Lawrence Aquahawks- 4105 W. 6th Street Suite A-1, Lawrence, KS 66049