HARRISONBURG, Va. – With extensive experience training divers on the national level as owner of one of the nation’s premier diving clubs, coaching experience with USA Diving and collegiate stints at four programs in the mid-Atlantic area, John Wolsh was hired as diving coach at James Madison as announced on Thursday by swimming and diving Head Coach Dane Pedersen.
“We are very excited for John to join our swimming and diving staff,” Pedersen said. “He brings an exceptional wealth of talent and experience, which will not only continue the high success of our diving program but also elevate it to new heights. In addition to his experience, John is a champion for coaching the full student-athlete. I was impressed with his selfless, personal and detail-oriented approach to coaching not just the diver but the whole person. He also shares our vision and goal of swimming and diving being one unit as a family. He will be an asset to our staff and team in numerous facets. I cannot wait for him to get on deck and begin coaching our athletes.”
From 1989 to 2010, Wolsh was owner of Montgomery Dive Club in Montgomery County, Md. He grew the program from the ground up and oversaw all aspects of operations, including hiring staff, developing training programs, marketing, event planning and more. During his time at Montgomery, he had 13 divers qualify for the USA Diving Olympic Trials among 30 overall USA National Team members and coached with the USA Diving National Team. He also had 30 athletes go on to become NCAA Division I All-Americans as part of a group of over 100 total Division I scholarship divers to come through his program. In addition, 13 assistant coaches at the program moved on to become Division I diving coaches.
Following his time with Montgomery Dive Club, Wolsh stepped aside from diving for a brief time to pursue other interests and worked for the last four years as operations, marketing and sales director at Sarge Athletics. There he specialized in personal training, facility maintenance, staff management and program promotion.
Wolsh said, “After a brief sabbatical from diving, I am very excited to join the James Madison University swimming and diving program. The few years away were very important years with my own children. Now they have grown old enough I can get back to doing what I love most as a profession.”
In addition to his club experience, Wolsh owns previous diving coach experience at Maryland, American, Georgetown and Virginia. With the Terrapins, he coached three conference champions and a two-time All-American among many NCAA Zone qualifiers over eight seasons. He also captured 10 championships from 1982-89 at American with one NCAA national qualifier.
Wolsh inherits a JMU program that sent 19 divers to the NCAA Zone A Championships over the previous nine seasons with two advancing to the NCAA Swimming and Diving National Championships. In 2015-16, Olivia Lehman was named CAA Diver of the Year and became the first JMU diver to win an event title at the Zone A meet by claiming the 1-meter board. She was joined at the Zone meet by Carly Alexander. JMU has had the CAA’s Diver of the Year in each of the last six seasons with four different divers.
Wolsh is a 1979 graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in recreation programming. He was a four-year NCAA qualifier with the Terps.
Swimming news courtesy of James Madison Swimming & Diving.