TEMPE, Arizona, August 8. ARIZONA State has once again restructured its Swimming & Diving program. After the Sun Devil men's team was cut in 2008, and then quickly re-instated with the aid of private funding, the program has seen a number of coaching changes.
Demerae Christianson was the most recent loss, after she accepted a coaching position with Auburn, her alma mater, in late April. This left the Sun Devil swimmers with two coaches: head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker, who took over the program in May of 2009, and sprint coach Scott Goodrich, promoted from volunteer coach to full-time assistant coach in 2010.
To fill this void, three new additions have been added to the coaching roster: Sonya Porter and Stefan Gherghal, both former Alabama coaches, and Dan Kesler, who previously coached distance at Wingate.
Porter joins the Sun Devil coaching staff as the new director of operations. Accolades include two decades of coaching experience, including a handful of Division 1 collegiate teams. As associate head coach of Alabama, her most recent position, the Crimson Tide saw seven top-25 finishes.
Gherghal comes to the Sun Devils boasting an impressive collegiate and international swimming career. At Alabama, he specialized in the butterfly, becoming his school's first two-time NCAA Champion when he captured the 200-butterfly title in 2002 and 2003. Gherghal has also competed in three Olympiads (Sydney, Athens and Beijing) representing his native country of Romania. Athens 2004 showed his highest Olympic finish, when he placed fifth in the 200 butterfly. He has coached the past six seasons at Alabama.
Kesler's brings distance expertise to the Sun Devils. He swam collegiately for NC State, specializing the 1650 freestyle, provisionally qualifing for the 2003 NCAA Championships in the same event. After college, he coached four seasons with the Bulldogs at Wingate. In his first season, his athletes took gold, silver and bronze in the mile at the South Atlantic Conference Championships.
The three new additions to the ASU coaching staff mark a period of growth for the program. The Sun Devil women's team has shown steady improvement since Tierney-Walker took over the head coaching position, placing 12th at NCAA Championships in March. This marked their highest placing since 2005.
Outside of the coaching world, the Sun Devil Swim & Dive team has another thing to be excited about: their training facility, the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, is almost healed from its $1.2 million facelift. The facility unveiling is set for mid-August and has been under construction since ASU released classes in the spring.
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