CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, June 20. RICH DeSelm, an assistant coach and director of recruiting at the University of Florida for the past six years and a former team captain and longtime assistant at the University of North Carolina, will take over as the head coach for UNC men's and women's swimming and diving in 2007.
DeSelm, 49, will serve as head coach designate in 2006-07, and become the head coach when Frank Comfort retires after the season. Comfort, the winningest dual swim meet coach in college history, announced on April 28 that he would step down after his 30th season as UNC's head coach.
"We are fortunate to hire a person of Rich's integrity, talent and passion to be the next head coach of Carolina swimming and diving," said Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. "He's been successful at Carolina, Davidson and Florida, as a head and assistant coach. He has a proven track record as a coach who recruits outstanding young people who are committed to excellence academically and in the pool. He is a teacher in the truest sense. I know the transition with Coach Comfort will be a seamless one that will allow Frank the opportunity to finish his remarkable career knowing the program he has built for 30 years will be in good hands for the future."
DeSelm was an All-America swimmer in Chapel Hill from 1974-78 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1978. Ten years later he earned a Master of Arts degree from Duke. He left Carolina in 1993 to become the head coach at Davidson, where he spent seven years.
He was an assistant at Carolina on Comfort's staff from 1978 to 1993, in which time he became the second full-time swimming coach in school history. In his 15 years coaching at Carolina, the Tar Heels won 14 Atlantic Coast Conference championships (nine by the women, five by the men). The women had seven Top 10 and 14 Top 20 NCAA finishes, while the men finished in the national Top 25 on 10 occasions.
"I could not be more pleased and excited for the program," said Comfort. "This was an extensive search, but all roads led to Rich. He has vast experience at Carolina and at two other great schools. I have every confidence that he will do a superb job with me next year and for many years to follow. Coaching alongside him in my final year will be an absolute joy. He knows Carolina's philosophy, goals and standards and he is a brilliant coach and person."
"This is an exciting opportunity for me to coach at my alma mater, a school for which I have so much respect," says DeSelm. "The University of North Carolina is a fantastic place in so many different ways. I appreciate the confidence Dick Baddour, Beth Miller and Coach Comfort have shown in asking me to lead this program forward. I am most excited about returning to Chapel Hill and getting to work with the Tar Heel student-athletes and becoming a member of the university and local communities. I want to thank Coach (Gregg) Troy, my colleagues on our staff and all the people here in Gainesville who have helped me and made it a rewarding six years at the University of Florida."
DeSelm recruited Florida's men's and women's teams that were consistently among the best in the country. The men finished 5th in 2001, 4th in 2002, 6th in 2003 and 2004, and 5th in 2005 and 2006. The Gator women placed 8th in 2001, 7th in 2002, 5th in 2003, 4th in 2004 and 2005 and 10th in 2006.
The Gators won more than 300 All-America honors in his six years in Gainesville, including a school-record 26 by Carlos Jayme, who DeSelm mentored from 2000-2004. Jayme was the 2001 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, 2003 SEC champion and school record-holder in the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and 200 free, 400 free and 400 medley relays.
Other notable Florida swimmers DeSelm helped to coach include: Darian Townsend (eight-time All-America and member of the NCAA record-setting 800 freestyle relay); Maureen Farrell (17-time All-America and NCAA record-holder in 800 freestyle relay); Candice Weimann (10-time All-America and UF record-holder in the 100 freestyle); and Gabriel Mangabiera, a 15-time All-America, South American record-holder in the 100 fly, SEC champion in the 100 backstroke and Florida record-holder in six events.
DeSelm coordinated a recruiting effort that landed seven Olympic swimmers who will be on the University of Florida rosters in 2006-07.
"North Carolina got a great candidate to be its next head coach," said Gator head coach Gregg Troy. "Rich did an outstanding job here and he will be missed by all of us at the University of Florida."
DeSelm led Davidson College to four women's and three men's titles at the Southern States Championships and he earned seven coach of the year awards. Mary Shell Brosche won three consecutive Southern States Female Swimmer of the Year awards.
He coached a pair of Tar Heels to berths in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Yann deFabrique, a first-team All-America at Carolina in the 200 free and 800 freestyle relay, was the 1993 French champion in the 400 freestyle and placed 14th in the Olympics in that event. David Monasterio, a first-team All-America at UNC in the 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly and 800 freestyle relay, swam on the 1992 Puerto Rico Olympic Team.
Other notable UNC swimmers coached by DeSelm include Sue Walsh, Polly Winde, James Hamrick, Carrie Szulc, John Davis (a 12-time individual event ACC champion), Gary Gauch, Melissa Douse and Sarah Perroni. Walsh and Winde were members of the 1983 United States Team in the Pan American Games.
"You will not find a person with more integrity, passion for swimming and loyalty to his alma mater than Rich DeSelm," said Walsh, a 12-time national collegiate champion and American record-holder, and currently the Director of Endowment and Stewardship at the Rams Club. "This day is indicative of an exciting future for our swimming and diving program. Few coaches would be able to successfully follow what Frank Comfort has accomplished, but Coach DeSelm has the qualities necessary to drive this program to be one of the best in the ACC and nationally. He is well-positioned to carry on the tradition of winning with integrity that we have all come to expect at UNC."
DeSelm was the assistant manager for the United States team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and the 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships. He was the head manager for United States teams at the 1997 and 1999 Pan Pacific Championships and the 1995 Pan American Games.
DeSelm and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Grant (10) and Claire (8). He is a native of Knoxville, Tenn., and attended high school there and in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was graduated from The Bolles School.