Coaching carousel spinning in UA swim & dive program

Like his father before him, Augie Busch has left the University of Arizona swimming pool for fresh water.

Frank Busch, a six-time NCAA Coach of the Year who led the Wildcat swimming and diving program for 22 years, announced his resignation in February to accept a new position as National Team Director for USA Swimming.

And now Augie, who has been instrumental in Arizona’s success for the past eight years, will also be moving on.  He has been hired by the University of Houston to take over the women’s swim program there.

The younger Busch worked primarily with Arizona’s backstroke and individual medley swimmers.  While in Tucson, his training group produced three NCAA champions and 21 All-Americans.

The departure of Augie Busch is just part of the staff shake-up that is going on under the new head coach, Eric Hansen, who the Cats lured away from the University of Wisconsin after a very successful 12-year ride with the Badgers.  He was an All American swimmer in college and the Big Ten Coach of the Year while at Wisconsin.

Hansen’s re-structuring of the UofA swim program is being closely watched, since that program has been a shining jewel in the school’s athletic treasure chest.

The Wildcat program has finished in the national top-10 for the last 14 years straight and has enjoyed seven top-four finishes in the last eight years.  Since 1991, Arizona has had at least one individual or relay champion – a total of 46 individual titles and 29 relay titles.

As Augie Busch departs, Hansen is busy assembling his new staff that will be expected to continue the tradition begun by Frank Busch.

He has established continuity by retaining several long-time assistants.

Rick DeMont, the program’s associate head coach, has been on the coaching staff at Arizona for the last 23 seasons.  The former Arizona swimmer who was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 mentors the sprint freestyle group and is expected to continue on in that capacity.

And Michele Mitchell, another UofA alumnus who served Frank Busch as his diving instructor for 15 seasons, will take over as the administrative director of operations.  A two-time Olympic silver medalist, Mitchell is a four-time Pac-10 Diving Coach of the Year and has been responsible for developing 27 All-Americans.

The new head coach will also maintain a link to his past, as he brings  Geoff Hanson with him from the Wisconsin program, where he worked with distance freestyle and individual medley swimmers.

Hanson, too, is a former Arizona swimmer and competed for Frank Busch from 1993-96.  He was on the Wisconsin coaching staff for 11 seasons.

And one more assistant coach has been added, with the addition of Tracy Duchac, who comes from Texas A&M where she helped the Aggies to three Big 12 championships and five top-10 national finishes during her five seasons there.

Augie Busch’s new career stop in Texas, a border state with Mexico, will give him still more opportunity to make use of his second language.  The Tucson native developed a fluency in Spanish while growing up in the desert.

That probably wasn’t a factor in his being hired.  But it can’t hurt his recruiting efforts in a state with a population more than a third Hispanic.