Gophers hire new diving coach

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams might be a man up on their competition now – literally.

Jason Baumann, a former assistant coach at Indiana, was hired last week as the Gophers’ diving coach. Baumann will replace former diving coach Mike Martens, who will return to his native Australia to continue his coaching career.

The diving events have not been the Gophers’ best during the years, but Baumann hopes to make it into one of their stronger points.

“The Gophers already have a lot of talent in their diving program between (Shaun) Kennedy and others,” Baumann said. “I’m just hoping that I can come in there and do what I was hired to do – help them get better.”

At the 2005 Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships, held February 19-21 at the University Aquatic Center, the Hoosiers dominated the diving events. After the wakes cleared, three Indiana divers earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, and much of the praise for the success was given to Baumann.

Baumann’s coaching career started in 1999 when he became the diving coach at Wyoming. He capped his tenure at Wyoming off by qualifying all but one of his divers for the 2001 Mountain West Conference Championship finals in all three diving events.

But he said it was his coaches when he was a child who prepared him for a coaching career – specifically Indiana diving coach Jeff Huber.

“I have been working with coach Huber since I was 7 years old,” Baumann said. “He was very happy that I was given this opportunity, and I’m sure he is looking forward to the competition.”

Baumann will begin his duties July 25, but he said he has been anxious to get started with the Gophers diving program since he first heard about the job.

And that’s exactly why coach Dennis Dale and Athletics Director Joel Maturi selected Baumann.

“Indiana might be the top diving program in the nation, let alone the Big Ten,” Maturi said. “His pedigree is great as well. Those were the factors in the decision.”

Dale said any time one is able to get someone of Baumann’s caliber, it’s a victory for the program.

“If we want to compete with Indiana diving, we are going to have to do more, because they aren’t going to do less,” Dale said.