Cordes, Katis, Chierighini Headline Diverse Contingent to Join Sergio Lopez at Virginia Tech

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.

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So where will Lopez concentrate his efforts? Will these post grads get most of his attention or will he concentrate on bringing the college team to the top of the NCAA? If I am a swimmer and considering going to Virginia Tech I might want to have that conversation with him. Is it possible there are enough hours in the day to do both? Meehan has been able to do it at Stanford but lets face it Stanford has been recruiting and signing the best young swimmers in the country. Virginia Tech does not have that type of talent.


Let alone that, which is a great point, he doesn’t even have a staff yet.


Yeah how does any coach who trains both pros and college swimmers do it?!?!?

Having swum in a pro group attached to a college program, I can attest that this setup can definitely be a challenge for college coaches – but it absolutely can be done. The other half of the equation is that the pro groups themselves help the college teams. The NCAA is so driven by recruiting right now, and having a contingent of pro swimmers at Pro Swim Series meets, Summer/Winter Nationals, Pro-Ams, etc. is like a walking billboard for the potential of your program to bring athletes to the very highest levels.


Agreed. I observed problems at Michigan back in the 2005-08 era and potentially seeing the same at ASU with Bowman and so many transfers.


I think it’s awesome to see a new center for elite swimming starting up in Virginia like this, and I wish Lopez and his athletes the best of luck! I hope we’ll see Virginia Tech among the top teams in the NCAA, but even if that doesn’t materialize, I’m glad there is another option for post-grad swimmers to have top training in the U.S. Indeed, with Marsh moving to U.C. San Diego, Bowman moving to Arizona State and the recent excellence of athletes from N.C. State, Indiana, and Texas A&M, among others, U.S. Swimming seems to stronger than ever!


Just more of the same as pro swimmers are still getting the “scraps” from college programs, these coaches’ priorities are the teams that the universities pay them to coach… I don’t see how that can be good.


The Florida coach quit to train Dressel and the pros there. Maybe we will see more of this as they have a 3 way brain trust with one quality coach running each team. Well if a coach is going to run all 3 teams he/she is going to burn out quickly


Troy did it for 20 years, which is very impressive, but he is definitely best as an elite-level coach, and we will see that more in the years to come.


Only Cordes in that group makes usa swimming better. The rest are internationals! I would like to start a pool to see how long he stays at VT?


Good point although as “SUPERFAN” you could celebrate that it could be good for swimming. As a “SUPERFAN” for Team USA you are spot on. We must remember than The SERG is just another coach trying to support his family and remain sane. This man will be overworked and underpaid for the remainder of his coaching career. Many of the “Pros” are athletes who have a meaningful career. Those we should applaud and support. BUT more are “throw away” athletes who are too insecure to leave the confines of chlorinated water and join the real world. Many are equipped for fast food restaurant positions as some do not have a college degree or any thought out path other than to… Read more »


The competition makes USA Swimming better.


Not so sure about that. Does it make usa swimming or more makes Internationala better? Many colleges do just fine without Internationals “making them better”.




Pretty sure Katis is U.S. (And side note, his sister swam for VT in Blacksburg)


Is he really training or just swimming? That little tidbit is more interesting than him swimming.


What is your point there exactly? Are you just here to hate on internationals or would like to see what they add to the teams? Different viewpoints and backgrounds can help out the college teams as well as the pro American swimmers, since they might see something they couldn’t before. Also, Sergio is international yet making USA swimming better. Stop the hate on internationals and look what they gave to the US in the past


Is Robert Owen still swimming at VT?

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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