Auburn hires former AU All-American to lead swimming programs
AUBURN, Alabama–Former Auburn All-American Ryan Wochomurka is returning to his alma mater as head swimming and diving coach of the men’s and women’s program. He takes over a program that has had major success at the SEC and national levels, but struggled in recent seasons.
“We are thrilled to announce Ryan Wochomurka as the new leader of our swimming and diving program,” Athletic Director Allen Greene said on Friday in announcing that Auburn has a replacement in place after firing Gary Taylor on Monday after three disappointing seasons on the job. Both the Auburn men and women failed to scored a point at the 2021 NCAA Championships and each team struggled at the Southeastern Conference Championships and did not win at event at either meet.
“Ryan’s proven to be an effective communicator and relationship builder, resulting in exceptional recruiting and the development of championship teams as the head coach at the University of Houston,” Greene said.
“In addition, his achievements as a 21-time All-American and three-time national champion swimmer at Auburn, and the respect he’s earned within the collegiate swimming community, uniquely qualified this Auburn man to lead his alma mater. We’re delighted to welcome Ryan, Leigh, Hayes and Hallie back to the Plains.”
Wokomurka swam for the Tigers from 2002-05 and was a member of three national championship teams while competing for Auburn. He has spent the past six seasons at the Univerisyt of Houston where he led the Cougars to five straight women’s American Athletic Conference Championships. Wochomurka was the AAC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year every year from 2017 to 2021.
“My family and I are honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as the head coach at Auburn University,” Wochomurka said. “I am very thankful to Mr. Allen Greene, President (Jay) Gogue, the Board of Trustees, and our proud alumni for the opportunity to lead our Auburn men and women in the pool.
“It is hard to truly encapsulate into words the impact that Auburn swimming and diving has had on my life, and we will strive tirelessly to the very best of our ability to provide the same incredible Auburn experience to our current student-athletes that has shaped the lives of so many that have come before,” he said. “The rich history and tradition of this program is second to none, and we have an incredible opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants as we look to the future. I believe in Auburn and love it.War Eagle!”
The Auburn men have won 18 SEC Championship team titles, including 16 in a row from 1997-2012. The men’s team has won eight national championships, the most of any Auburn men’s squad. Coach David Marsh’s men’s squad won the university’s first official NCAA team title in 1997 at Minneapolis. The Tigers also national team titles in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The women’s team has won five national championships with the first one in 2002 followed by first place finishes in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Also with Marsh as head coach, the 2002 title was the first national championship for an Auburn women’s team in any sport. The Tigers won the Southeastern Conference women’s team championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
This past season Wochomurka’s Cougars produced one of the most successful seasons in Houston history. The women’s team won The American Conference, earning its fifth consecutive league title and scoring the most points by a women’s team in championship history. Mykenzie Leehy and Ioanna Sacha were named Co-AAC Swimmers of the year, Laura Garcia-Marin earned Freshman of the year honors, and Wochomurka earned his fifth consecutive AAC Women’s Coach of the Year award. The Cougars as Houston sent three Cougars to the NCAA Championships, including a diver for the first time since 2015. The Cougars solidified themselves as a powerhouse at the NCAA Women’s Championships, scoring the program’s most points at the meet since 2011 and earning the highest finish of any non-major conference team in attendance.
The 2019-20 season ended early due to pandemic, but Houston left no doubt that it was the team to beat in The American, capturing 17 individual championships in its home pool and accumulating the second-most points by a women’s team in AAC Championships history. The Cougars swept the relays for the second straight year and added a sweep of the diving events to its resume.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Houston, Wochomurka spent eight seasons on staff at the University of Louisville. Ahead of the 2014-15 season, he was promoted to associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the men’s team. During his time there, Louisville won two men’s championships and three women’s championships in the Big East Conference and swept the men’s and women’s American Athletic Conference titles in 2014.
Under Wochomurka’s leadership, the Cardinals also experienced tremendous success on a national level. The women’s program finished sixth at the 2015 NCAA Championships, a school record, and Kelsi Worrell won national championships in both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events. It was the fourth-straight Top 25 finish for the women.
On the men’s side, Louisville placed in the top 25 every year from 2010-2015, including top-15 finishes in 2012, 2014 and 2015. With Wochomurka in his corner, Louisville’s Carlos Almeida was the NCAA champion in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2012, while Joao De Lucca won NCAA titles in the 200-yard freestyle in 2013 and both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle in 2014.
While swimming at Auburn Wochomurka won NCAA titles in both the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relays and won eight Southeastern Conference championships. He competed for the United States at the 2003 FINA World Championships where he was a silver medalist in the 4×100 freestyle relay. He was also a 2004 Olympic Trials finalist and a two-time FINA World Cup Silver Medalist.
“It is impossible to thank Ryan properly for his impact on our swimming and diving program over the last six seasons,” University of Houston Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman said. “He has lifted our program to new heights and brought a championship mentality to our team that resulted in five consecutive conference titles and our best finish at the NCAA Championships in a decade. I hope to see Ryan continue his success as he returns to his alma mater in this new opportunity. We wish his wife, Leigh, and their children, Hayes and Hallie, the best as they return to Auburn.”
Wochomurka said he enjoyed his time with the Cougars. “It is bittersweet to leave a city, university, program, and most importantly amazing student-athletes that have given and meant so much to my family over the last six years,” he said. “My heart is full knowing that the best is yet to come for this amazing group of women; they have built the culture of family and excellence that is Houston Swimming and Diving.