The Wildcats hired former Illinois State head coach Caitlin Hamilton as their next associate coach on Thursday, two days after announcing the retention of head diving coach Ted Hautau, associate coach Jordan Lieberman, and diving graduate assistant Wu Chunting.
The hiring of Hamilton comes 11 days before the beginning of fall classes at Illinois State, leaving the program for now in the hands of 3rd-year assistant Sean Sullivan and 2nd-year diving coach Dallas O’Haver. Hamilton had spent four years leading Illinois State, a Division I school in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Last year, the Redbirds broke 12 school records, including all five relay standards. They placed 3rd at the MVC Championships as Madyson Morse took home Swimmer of the Year honors.
“To be able to add a coach with the experience, proven track record and leadership skills that Caitlin has is an absolute steal,” Lundgaard said. “She has robust college swimming and coaching experience and will be a wonderful partner for myself, and the staff, as we strive to continue to learn and grow. Throughout the hiring process, Caitlin regularly articulated a motivation to positively influence student-athletes with a team of coaches who share a commitment to building a world-class environment based on values. I know she’ll quickly put her fingerprints on our program and these fortunate student-athletes.”
Prior to Illinois State, Hamilton also served as an assistant coach at Indiana (2017-19), IUPUI (2015-17), and Wyoming (2014-15). As a swimmer, she was a team captain and All-American at Purdue from 2009-13.
“I’d like to thank Bret for the opportunity to join the staff and team at Kentucky,” Hamilton said. “There is an obvious commitment to excellence from the athletes and administration all around. I’m excited for the future of the program and for the challenge of competing in the SEC.”
Hautau will continue to lead the diving program after overseeing operations for the past 15 seasons. He earned SEC Diving Coach of the Year honors in both 2015 (women) and 2021 (men).
“I am so fortunate to begin this exciting new chapter in Kentucky Swimming & Diving with Ted by my side,” Lundgaard said. “Ted is respected and admired in the swim and dive community by both his peers and student-athletes. He is an established diving coach who has the unique combination of character, compassion and competitive expertise. Our current and future student-athletes are fortunate to partner with him.”
Lieberman is being promoted from assistant to associate in his fourth season with the Wildcats. Lundgaard highlighted his work with rising sophomore Levi Sandidge, who became the program’s first-ever SEC champion in the men’s 1650 free last season as a freshman.
“Retaining Jordan was a priority of mine as I put together a high character staff with comprehensive competitive skillsets,” Lundgaard said. “He has done a phenomenal job connecting with our student-athletes and he is one of the bright up and coming coaches in our sport. While his influence in helping Levi [Sandidge] earn an individual SEC championship is notable, his expertise led to numerous student-athlete breakthroughs. Jordan will help us continue to develop this program as a destination for elite middle and distance swimming.”
Wu is entering her second season as a graduate assistant for the diving squad. She has captured gold medals at the World Junior Diving Championships, FINA Diving Grand Prix, Asian Diving Cup, FISU World University Games, and Chinese National Championships throughout her career.
“Cara brings a wealth of diving expertise and world-class competitive experience as a World University Games Champion and one of the top divers in China,” Lundgaard said. “I appreciate her care for our athletes’ mental and physical well-being and her wise approach to training, competing and recovering.”
On Wednesday, Marshall announced the addition of Bailey Bonnett, who spent the 2022-23 season as an assistant at Kentucky. She was not retained on the Wildcats staff along with Geena Freriks following the resignations of head coach Lars Jorgensen and associate coach Michael Camper earlier this summer. Before Lundgaard was hired, volunteer assistant Scott Stern also left Kentucky to join Cincinnati’s coaching staff.