UNC Taps Sánchez To Lead Diving Program

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (GoHeels.com) - Abel Sánchez, a 2000 Summer Olympics participant and three-time All-America at the University of Michigan, was named today as the diving coach at the University of North Carolina.  UNC head swimming coach Rich DeSelm made the announcement.

   North Carolina Diving Coach Abel Sánchez
North Carolina Diving Coach
Abel Sánchez

Sánchez comes to Chapel Hill from the University of New Mexico where he has served as the diving coach since October 2004.

"We are extremely excited to announce that Abel Sánchez will join our staff as the new diving coach at North Carolina. Abel has an impressive background as a diver and as a collegiate and club coach," said DeSelm. "As an athlete, Abel was an NCAA All-America and medalist at various national and international competitions, including representing Peru in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

"As a coach, he was mentored by some of the best coaches in the profession and has coached NCAA All-Americas and various international medalists. We are thrilled to welcome Abel, his wife Leanne and his daughters Bryze and Maizie and son Rio to UNC!"

At New Mexico, he was the 2011 and 2012 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year.  He coached six Mountain West Conference champions, two NCAA All-Americas, 37 MWC finalists and three performers who won MWC Diver of the Year accolades.  He has coached divers who have been either finalists or medalists at the World University Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Canadian Nationals and the Russian Nationals.

Last year Sánchez coached a diving squad that included six All-Mountain West Conference performers on the one-meter, three-meter and platform. All six divers qualified to the 2013 NCAA Zone "E" Diving Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. His divers set the highest scores in the Mountain West Conference for the season.  Sophomore Michole Timm qualified to the NCAA National Championship in Indianapolis, Ind.

A standout diver in Ann Arbor, Sánchez was a four-time All-America (twice first team, twice honorable mention) and an Academic All-America.  He placed in the Top 10 at the NCAA Championships twice, finishing as high as fourth. Sánchez was also a five-time All-Big Ten Conference honoree. He won two silver medals at the conference championships in his career and helped Michigan to four consecutive Big 10 titles and a national championship for the Maize and Blue in 1995.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications in 1995 from the U of M.  He also holds a master's degree in architecture from New Mexico that was earned in 2011.

After his collegiate career ended, Sánchez continued to dive, training with Olympic coach Kenny Armstrong, Jay Lerew and Olympian and world champion Janet Ely-Lagourgue.

Sánchez went on to represent Peru, his father's home country, on three-meter springboard and platform at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. Sánchez qualified for the Olympics after claiming silver medals on one-meter and three-meter springboards and the 10-meter platform at the South American Championships. He was an eight-time finalist at the U.S. Diving Nationals, and a five-time finalist in the FINA Grand Prix circuit.

Sánchez joined the Lobos after coaching the Mission Viejo (Calif.) Nadadores Diving Team.  Previously he served as a member of coaching staffs at Team Orlando Diving (Fla), L'Equipe Diving (Irvine, Calif.) and The Woodlands Diving Academy (Texas).

Sánchez, a Holland, Mich., native, is married to Leanne and the couple has two daughters, Bryze and Maizie, and a son, Rio.

Abel Sánchez Coaching Highlights:

2 NCAA All-America

1 FISU - World University Games Finalist

1 Silver Medalist - Commonwealth Games

28 Academic All-Conference Award Winners

6 Mountain West Conference Champions

43 Mountain West Conference Finalists

31 Mountain West Conference "Athlete of the Week" Awards

3 Mountain West Conference "Diver of the Year" Awards

1 "Senior Athlete of the Year Recognition Award" - Awarded by MWC

2 Mountain West Conference "Coach of the Year" Awards

2011 UNM Faculty of Color Award for UNM Staff

2 USA National Finalists

2 FINA GP Finalists

4 Canadian National Finalists