Cal Poly Hires Laurel Abernethy to Rebuild Diving Program

Cal Poly has hired Laurel Abernethy as its new head diving coach. She replaces Jerry Damron, who served in the role for one year.

Abernethy has held several prior gigs in NCAA diving, though this will be her first paid role with a collegiate varsity. She served as a volunteer diving assistant with BYU, her alma mater, from 2021-2023 and at UC Davis from 2012 through 2016.

Abernethy has a lot of experience at the high school and club level as well. From 2009-2016, she served as an assistant diving coach with Capital Divers in Sacramento, California, and from 2016 until this year, she served as the head development diving coach with the BYU Cougar Dive Club.

She also held a role at BYU as an instructor of swimming and diving in the student wellness program.

During her time in Utah, Abernethy coached Olympic Trials qualifier Mickey Strauss and NCAA All-American Kennedy Cribbs.

In Sacramento, she worked with Jake Crayne, who would go on to be an Olympic Trials qualifier and earn All-America honors at Utah.

As an athlete, Abernethy was a team captain at BYU in the 1993-1994 season, and was a WAC finalist in 1993 and 1994.

“At Cal Poly I hope to build a stable program where top level students can look forward to a quality education paired with high level athletics,” Abernethy said. “Many of my former nor-cal club divers went on to compete for Cal Poly and I look forward to providing a competitive option for any divers interested in a top level tech school.”

The Cal Poly women earned 13 diving points at last year’s MPSF Championships, all from senior Jackie Samaniego who won the B Final on 1-meter. The men’s team scored 25 points, 19 of which came from senior Max Powell.

As a total program, the Cap Poly women finished 9th out of 10 teams at the MPSF Championships, while the Cal Poly men were 7th out of 8 teams. The BYU women, meanwhile, finished 3rd, and the men won the conference title, both led by best-in-conference scoring outputs from their divers.

Cal Poly will compete in the newly-formed Big West swimming and diving championships beginning in the 2024-2025 season.

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Stan Crump
2 months ago

Congrats Laurel!

Peter Motekaitis
3 months ago

Best of luck! Cal Poly is lucky to have you.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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