American record holder Kevin Cordes, Chuck Katis, and Brazilian record holder Marcelo Chierighini are among the group of elite post-grad swimmers that will follow Sergio Lopez to Virginia Tech in the coming months, Lopez confirmed to SwimSwam Tuesday.
Lopez was hired to replace head coach Ned Skinner in April, marking his return to head coaching after three years of serving under Brett Hawke at Auburn; Hawke resigned in March, and was replaced by Gary Taylor. Directly before he was at Auburn, Lopez spent two years in Singapore as the high performance coach of the Singapore Swimming Association. While there, Lopez coached Cordes, who followed him to Auburn.
Lopez officially began work at Virginia Tech on June 1st, and has been back-and-forth between his new gig and Auburn as finishes out swim camp contracts.
Cordes and Katis will arrive in Blacksburg around July 4th after finishing the current training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. They will prepare for summer Nationals at Virginia Tech.
Chierighini, a Brazilian Auburn alum who has swum for Pinheiros thus far in his post-graduate career, will leave the team and join Lopez’s squad in January. He will train with Pinheiros until the move – notably, teammate Cesar Cielo has signaled that he will likely retire at the end of the year.
Shane Ryan, who swam collegiately at Penn State but represents Ireland internationally, will make the move after the 2018 European Championships in August.
Taiwan’s Wu Chung Feng is already training in Blacksburg, preparing for the Asian Games in August. Mexico’s Miguel De Lara will also join Lopez in January.
Also currently on the Tiger Elite Racing team also are Luis Martinez (Guatemala), Hayle Black (Canada), Brea Roman (Jamaica) and Peter Holda (Hungary). Lopez added that other post-grad swimmers will likely join the squad in Blacksburg next year, and that assistant coach Tyler McGill will coach all remaining swimmers through their transitions off to their final meets with the team that was formerly called “Tiger Elite Racing,” which will also be renamed before next season.
It’s no surprise that loyalty to Lopez – who boasts Ryan Murphy, Caeleb Dressel, Joseph Schooling, and Santo Condorelli among his past swimmers – is strong, and we already knew in terms of undergrads that SEC Freshman of the Year Hugo Gonzalez is transferring from Auburn to Virginia Tech to be with him.