It’s been one of the more interesting NCAA Division I offseasons in recent memory, at least in terms of major coaching changes, and another domino fell this morning as Virginia Tech announced that they’ve hired Sergio Lopez to take the reins of the Hokies’ program.
Lopez’s hiring brings yet another big name to the ACC, as he has a wealth of experience and an extensive background, both internationally and collegiately. Most recently he’s served the associate head coach at Auburn, who just this weekend announced that former NC State associate head coach Gary Taylor would be replacing the outgoing Brett Hawke as head coach of the Tigers’ program.
Before coming to Auburn, Lopez spent two years in Singapore as the high performance coach of the Singapore Swimming Association. While there, he also coached American Record holder Kevin Cordes, who followed Lopez to Auburn.
Lopez was a bronze medalist in the 200 breast at the 1988 Olympics, but on the coaching side, he’s probably best known for his time as the head coach of the legendary Bolles School program in Jacksonville, Florida, where he coached future Olympic gold medalists Ryan Murphy and Joseph Schooling, among others.
This isn’t Lopez’s first college head coaching gig, though. Prior to his time at Bolles, Lopez was the head coach at West Virginia. The men’s program under Lopez had a 26-8 dual meet record, the best by a coach in West Virginia men’s swimming history, and a Big East title in in 2007. The women’s team was 11th at the Big East Championships the year before he took over, and 3rd in his last season there.
At Virginia Tech, Lopez replaces Ned Skinner, who resigned recently after 20 years as the head coach. The Hokie men won an ACC title in 2014, and briefly looked like they may be the new big thing in the conference after they ended title Virginia’s run. However, they were quickly surpassed by NC State, whose head coach Braden Holloway previously served as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech under Skinner.
Both Virginia Tech teams finished 33rd at this year’s NCAAs, with all of the men’s points coming from diving, while the women picked up points from two individual swimmers plus some scoring relays. The women finished 7th at ACCs in February, while the men finished 6th.
The full Virginia Tech press release:
BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock announced Monday that Sergio Lopez Miro has agreed to serve as head coach of the Virginia Tech swimming and div! ing program. He joins the Hokies after spending the past two seasons as the associate head coach at Auburn University, following a two-year stint as the head high performance coach of the Singapore Swimming Association.
Lopez Miro owns previous head coaching experience at West Virginia from 2004-07, where he was a two-time Big East Men’s Coach of the Year. His list of notable pupils includes Olympic gold medalists and NCAA champions Ryan Murphy and Joseph Schooling.
“We enthusiastically welcome Sergio, his wife Sandy, and their children Harley and Cobi to Hokie Nation,” Babcock said. “We are thrilled to have a coach with Sergio’s pedigree and proven record of producing elite competitors in Olympic and NCAA competition. His personal history of accomplishment as a competitor was just another plus that made him stand out as our top candidate. The addition of Sergio to our roster of talented head coaches gives another reason to be encouraged about the future of our swimming and diving program under his tutelage.”
“I am truly excited to become part of the Hokie Family and feel honored by the trust that Whit Babcock and Danny White are placing in me to help lead the Virginia Tech’s swimming and diving team to the top,” Lopez Miro said. “Virginia Tech has so much to offer academically and athletically, that along with the great swimming base in the state of Virginia, the sky is the limit for the team. Besides being a great draw for in-state swimmers, the strong reputation of Virginia Tech will attract top level swimmers from across the USA and the world.”
Following his stint at WVU, Lopez led the prestigious Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida from 2007-14. During his tenure, he led both the boys’ and girls’ teams to state titles and his teams held five of the 11 independent school national high school records. In addition, the boys team claimed four national titles while the girls finished as runners-up twice. Murphy and Schooling both swam for Lopez Miro at Bolles.
While working with the Singapore Swimming Association, Lopez Miro created and coached the National Training Center where he worked with 33 of the best swimmers in the country. He developed and coached the first Olympic gold medalist, Schooling, in Singapore’s history. He is a three-time Olympic team coach, serving as the head coach for Singapore at the 2016 Rio games and as an assistant in 2012 for the London games. In addition, Lopez Miro was the head coach for Netherlands Antilles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Barcelona, Spain native was a member of the Spanish national team from 1984-96. He won a silver medal at the 1993 World Championships and has held European and U.S. Open records as well as 14 records in Spain. Lopez Miro claimed a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics in the 200 breaststroke.
Lopez Miro began his coaching career as a volunteer at Arizona from 1994-96. From 1996-97 he was the technical director at the Cantabric Swimming Federation in Santander, Spain before returning to the U.S. to serve as the head coach at Hillenbrand Aquatics in Tucson, Arizona.
He returned to the college ranks to serve as an assistant (2000-03) coach at Northwestern before being promoted to associate head coach in 2003. While there he helped the Wildcats to produce seven All-Americans, eight Big Ten champions, a Big Ten Swimmer of the Year and a Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Lopez graduated from American University in 1992 with a degree in Kinesiology. During his collegiate career, Lopez Miro earned nine All-America honors in the breaststroke and IM events.