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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Justin and his wife Jessica live in Lawrence and
have 2 children Chloe & Joey.
Office / Mailing Address: Lawrence Aquahawks- 4105 W. 6th Street
Suite A-1, Lawrence, KS 66049