A History of Louisville Women’s Sports Chapter 5: Swimming and Diving
As we transition from the fall sports to winter sports I decided to focus on a program that does not receive the publicity and recognition equivalent to their accomplishments. In terms of national championships combined between individual and team events the Louisville swimming and diving program is unlike any other. Their streak of national championships traces back to when I first started as a student. However, today we are focusing solely on the women’s side, so we will negate all men’s accomplishments for the time being.
Ralph Wright is a name recognized as the aquatic center where the Cardinals compete at today, but the name means much more than that. Ralph Wright became the first swimming and diving (S&D) coach at UofL for the 1948-49 school year. Wright had a prestigious record long before his time at UofL including a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. He continued to coach in town at the Y.M.C.A, Lakeside Swim Club and Plantation Swim Club up until his death at the age of 45. There are now multiple buildings named in his memory. Wright is now a member of the Louisville Athletics Hall of Fame.
There was a gap in stats, numbers and records following Wright’s departure up until the 1990’s when UofLstarted keeping records. That’s when Rick Hill came in. He was the second most recent swimming and diving coach, where he held the position from the 1990’s to the 2002-03 season. Hill spent his time as coach as a member of Conference USA and now has an award named in his honor.
Arthur Albiero first took over in 2003. He came from Alabama, where he played an integral part in their rebuilding period. Albiero worked with architects on the design of the Ralph Wright Natatorium just in time for UofL to join the Big East Conference. Since then, Albiero has helped the Cards onto numerous individual conference championships in the Big East, AAC and ACC. He has guided Cardinals onto higher levels with NCAA Championships, World Championships, and Olympic medals. The women won their first ever conference championship in 2009-2010, under his guidance. Two women’s swimmers have one individual NCAA titles- Kelsi Worrell Dahlia and Mallory Comerford. Albiero has also coached the Brazilian Olympics team.
Worrell won titles in 2015 and 2016. Comerford went three years with the crown in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Both swimmers were also a part of the 2016 Rio Olympics USA gold medal team. On the men’s side, Joao De Lucca and Carlos Almeida have both taken the title during their careers.
The Ralph Wright Natatorium has been home to the Cards since September 2005 after a two-year construction project. It is most well-known for Louisville swimming and diving but serves a greater purpose. Local swim and dive events happen year-round at the venue. The University takes advantage by offering aquatics classes for students and swim lessons and classes for the public. It has eight full lanes for competition while the diving area goes as deep as 18 ft.
Prior to the Natatorium was Crawford Gymnasium. It was host to the swimming and diving teams for most of the program’s life, starting with its construction in 1963. Crawford Gym was also home to several UofL P.E. classes up through its demolish in late 2016. It has been replaced by a state-of-the-art classroom building.
From the basement of a gym to a state-of-the art facility...Louisville Swimming and Diving has continued to grow and attract the best swimmers in the world. We don't see that changing.
Milwaukee's loss is Louisville's (and the ACC) gain.
Former Miss Kentucky, Cardinal Volleyball setter and Assumption High School Alumnae Katie George has left her role as the sideline and digital reporter for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks after 10 months to take a position with the ACC Network.
George will be an anchor and reporter with the ACC Network. One can logically assume that she'd be a part of the network's Volleyball coverage -- but she's the type of person you can throw into any situation and she'll shine.
For more on Katie and her decision to return to Louisville and the conference where she spent her final two years of her student-athlete career, check out the link below:
Country music legend Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a classic hit back in 1968 titled "What made Milwaukee famous".
LINK to song: George Jones' Classic Hit
In this case, though...Milwaukee isn't sending us a fool or loser back home. We are re-gaining an up-and-coming shining star who continues to move up in her career.
Can the return of the double fist pump be far away?
I’m back to banking this weekend and Daryl is tossing pitchers for saying “that’s horrible”. Paulie, Worldwide and Case will be on air for another World-Famous Cardinal Couple Quiz so tune in to see if you can win! Don't miss The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Saturday morning on WCHQ 100.9 FM, Facebook Live, the WCHQ app or listen live at the station's website:
Emanating from the magnificent, marvelous and massive media mansion on Mellwood ...the best of UofL Womens' Sports...
I’m back to banking this weekend and Daryl is tossing pitchers for saying “that’s horrible”. Paulie, Worldwide and Case will be on air for another World-Famous Cardinal Couple Quiz so tune in to see if you can win!
Happy Friday and Go Cards!