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Thursday, August 28, 2014 | Last updated: 4:15pm

DeMont named Arizona head swimming coach



Former Wildcat swimmer and longtime assistant coach Rick DeMont was named head swimming and diving coach on Tuesday.

He served as interim head coach for much of this season following the leave of absence and subsequent resignation of former head coach Eric Hansen.

DeMont said he is honored to take the helm of a “prestigious program” like Arizona swimming.

“This is a great place to run a program, and I’m excited about the possibilities,” DeMont said.

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Mark Armao/The Daily Wildcat Rick DeMont (right) talks with junior Kevin Cordes (left). DeMont, the first man to break the four-minute barrier in the 400m freestyle, was named head swimming and diving coach for UA on Tuesday.

DeMont swam for the UA in the late 1970s and has served on the Arizona coaching staff for 25 seasons.

“We’re extremely pleased to have someone with Rick DeMont’s credentials involved in our swimming and diving program,” said athletic director Greg Byrne in a press release. “Rick has been a dedicated Wildcat for over a quarter of a century, and he’s earned the opportunity to lead our program,” he continued. “His resume speaks for itself, and we know he’ll continue to build on the rich tradition of Arizona swimming.”

Despite the change in title, members of the team still know DeMont by his nickname, “Rocket.” And judging by his accolades as a swimmer, it’s an appropriate moniker.

DeMont is a former world-record holder in the 1500-meter freestyle, the 400m freestyle and the 4×100m freestyle relay. He was also the first man to swim the 400m freestyle in under four minutes. These, along with numerous other achievements, earned him a place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1990.

Reflecting on his history with UA swimming, DeMont said he couldn’t see himself anywhere else.

“I’m familiar with this program going all the way back to the ’60s,” DeMont said. “I graduated from [the UA]. I don’t know how to be anything but a Wildcat.”

DeMont served as head coach in an interim capacity since October, when then-head coach Eric Hansen took a leave of absence for undisclosed “personal matters.” In January, Hansen resigned.

Despite the distractions caused by Hansen’s departure, assistant coach Brandy Collins Maben said that the team made the transition smoothly under DeMont’s leadership.

“We have been kind of sailing since October, so when [Hansen] resigned, it really wasn’t anything different from our day-to-day on deck,” she said.

Collins Maben, who swam for DeMont during her collegiate career, said that she feels blessed to be able to work alongside her friend and mentor.

“[DeMont’s] energy is unbelievable, and his knowledge and wisdom is the best in the world,” she said. “We couldn’t be happier or luckier to have him step up.”

—Follow Mark Armao @MarkArmao


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