Rachel Friel Returns To BYU As Swim & Dive Assistant Coach

by SwimSwam 12

October 27th, 2021 Coaching Changes, College, News

Courtesy: BYU Athletics

PROVO, Utah — BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe has named Rachel Friel assistant coach for the BYU swim and dive team.

Friel swam at BYU from 2007-11. She was named the Mountain West Conference Swimmer of the Year twice and competed in the NCAA National Championships three times. She competed in the 200 butterfly and both the 200 and 400 individual medley. And holds multiple team records at BYU and pool records across the country.

In addition to a successful collegiate career, Friel represented Hong Kong in several international competitions, including the World University games in Serbia (2009) and again in Shenzhen China (2011). Friel also competed in the 2008 Olympic trials in Hong Kong and the US. She was on the Hong Kong national team from 2006-11.

Friel spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of North Texas.

“Rachel adds passion, talent and years of experience on the national and international scene,” said Shari Skabelund, BYU interim head coach. “Rachel has an incredible work ethic. She also knows how to have fun while chasing dreams. We are so excited to welcome her back and have her a part of our staff.“

Friel was born in Hong Kong and raised in California. She graduated from BYU with a degree in pyschology.

Once she completed her eligibility at BYU in 2011, Friel stayed in Provo as a graduate assistant for one year before accepting the swimming head coaching position at Maple Mountain High School in August 2012, where she coached for three seasons. After leaving Utah and moving to Las Vegas, Friel continued coaching club at Boulder City Henderson Aquatics, where she was the head age group coach and senior coach, helping athletes continue to get faster as they prepared for national level meets and olympic trials.

At North Texas, Friel helped the team rewrite more than 15 records and made school history with a third-place finish in Conference USA. Friel coached her athletes to various individual top-three podium finishes and Conference USA championships.

Friel was the head recruiting coordinator at North Texas and brought in some of the strongest swimmers in school history that helped break school records.

Friel coached CSCAA National Invitational champion Claudia Kitching to gold in the 200 Breaststroke at the National Invite in Annapolis in 2018. Kitching’s performance at the CSCAA National Invitational set a meet and school record.

In her coaching career, Friel has coached numerous Olympic trial qualifiers, USA National Team members and several Olympians representing countries around the world.

Friel is married to former BYU football tight end Kaneakua Friel, and they have two sons.

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1 month ago

I still find it interesting that a program that finished first (men) and second (women) in their conference let their head coach go with no explanation.

That said, their new (interim) head coach has completely revamped the coaching staff (other than the dive coach) with what looks like some great young hires. I’m definitely not a Cougar fan (go Utes!) but as a college swim fan I sincerely hope this works out great for the program!

Kurt Dickson
Reply to  Stinky
1 month ago

Yup. As ex-BYU swimmer would like to know that back story.

1 month ago

>Friel also competed in the 2008 Olympic trials in Hong Kong and the US
How does that work?

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Swimmers aren’t locked into a sporting citizenship until they’ve competed for their nation internationally. Olympic Trials meets aren’t considered “international meets.” So, she can hold dual sporting citizenship and be eligible to compete at both, as the eligibility rules say “they must be eligible to represent the nation internationally.”

Can’t think of the name, but there was a highly-ranked junior swimmer who lives in the US who intended to race at both the US and Canadian Trials this year, but opted to just swim US Trials because of the COVID challenges.

Stan Crump
1 month ago

Congrats Rachel!!!!!! Welcome back!

Reply to  Stan Crump
1 month ago

Thank you Stan! Planning on making you proud 😊

1 month ago


1 month ago

congrats Rachel 🙂

Reply to  Nikos
1 month ago

Thank you Nikos!

1 month ago


1 month ago


Denna Culpepper
26 days ago

So happy for you, Rachel! Thank you for everything you did at North Texas – all athletes benefited from your time there, especially Caroline. BYU is lucky to have you on deck. Go Cougs!