The University of New Mexico has announced the departure of its swimming and diving program’s Head Coach, Kunio Kono. Effective immediately, Kono has resigned his post to move to Japan to address family matters, according to the school’s website.
Having been in the Head Coach role for the past 4 years, Kono, believed to the first Japanese native to head a Division I program, racked up a record of 19-11 in swimming and diving dual meets. Against rival New Mexico State, Kono’s squad was undefeated with a perfect 4-0 record and the Lobos’ best finish in the Mountain West Championships was 5th back in 2014.
Kono has an impressive list of teams on his resume from before his stint as a Lobo, including as an assistant at University of Las Vegas-Nevada where he was a part of the Rebels’ run at 7-straight Mountain West Conference Championships.
Prior to that, Kono spent time in different capacities at Arizona, Alabama, and with the Trojan Swim Club wing of USC. While at Arizona and Alabama, he wrapped up his undergraduate and Masters’ degrees.
Kono’s current assistant coach, Jake Tapp, has been named interim Head Coach while a national search is conducted to find Kono’s replacement.
Said Kono of his resignation, “It has been a great honor to serve as UNM head swimming and diving coach for last four years. We accomplished to break every single school record, not only in the pool but academically.”
“I appreciate our Albuquerque community and alumni members that have supported our program,” Kono said. “It is sad to leave this amazing family, but I know the program will grow and continue to succeed with great student-athletes, staff and families. Once a Lobo, always a Lobo!”