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Diving coach recognized as a top coach

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | FEBRUARY 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Is it success, experience, and knowledge of the sport that make a great coach?

Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze is known as an outstanding coach in Hawkeye history and iconic member of USA Diving for more than the obvious reasons.

“I think the success of his athletes is reflective of the type of coach he is,” said senior diver Veronica Rydze, who is also his daughter. “Because he has had divers who may not have had the most talent when they first start out, and by the time they finish, they have improved so much.”

In his tenure at Iowa, Bob Rydze coached four Olympians, 31 All-Americans, nine Big Ten champions, and one NCAA champion, and he was named Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year three times. He also serves as the chairman of the Board of Directors for USA Diving.

He has been involved in Hawkeye diving for 36 years, but the Rydze diving lineage began many years before.

His father not only judged at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal, he was also a former president of USA Diving. His brother, Richard Rydze, won a silver medal in the platform diving at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

“Bobby Rydze is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable diving coaches in the country,” said Rick Schavone, USA Diving’s vice chairman of competitive excellence. “Bobby has been invaluable to USA Diving, and his hard work and commitment to USA Diving is the major reason for its resurgence at the international level.”

USA Diving Vice Chairman of Administration Bill Farrar said Bob Rydze became the chairman of the Board of Directors in a time of turmoil for the sport. His work, along with that of a few others, improved communication with membership and the transparency of the governance of USA Diving.

“He is like the godfather of the diving community,” Veronica Rydze said. “And I think that his respect and knowledge of the sport help him as chairman.”

His ability to recognize raw talent and mold it into a great athlete is one of the reasons he is described by others as a legend in the sport.

Iowa senior Deidre Freeman said she would not be where she was today if it wasn’t for him.

“He had to persuade me to come here,” she said. “I didn’t have the training in high school to be able to go to any Division-I schools, and he was the only one who recruited me. He convinced me that I was good enough to come here.”

Freeman is now a top competitor at the national level. She qualified for the World Trials in the 1 meter and finished fourth at the USA Diving 2011 Winter National Championships.

As a successful young coach, Rydze wasn’t always the “fun” and “laid-back guy” that his current athletes describe him as.

“When I was a young coach, I thought I knew everything; I really did,” he said. “I was cocky because I was very successful young, and I used to, honest to God, throw chairs and yell and scream.”

Age and experience changed his outlook, he said, and encouraging self-motivation has allowed each of his athletes to excel in the sport.

“He doesn’t push anything,” Freeman said. “He waits until you are ready to do something new, like try a new dive. Obviously, you are going to be scared. I didn’t dive 3 meters before I came here, and it got to the point that I was asking Bob if I could move up.”

Freeman will graduate this year but will remain at Iowa to train under Rydze as she continues her diving career at the national level.

Decades of coaching have led him to the conclusion that there is more to life than diving success. The well-being of each athlete is considered in every decision Rydze and the USA Diving Board of Directors make.

Said Farrar, “One of the highest compliments I can pay Bob is that he has a great affection for our athletes.”


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