Former Cougar great Yulia Pakhalina named interim diving coach
Jan. 16, 2014
HOUSTON - Houston head diving coach Jane Figueiredo has accepted the position of head coach of the British Diving High Performance Center in London, effectively ending her 24-year tenure at the University of Houston. Former Houston diver and Olympian Yulia Pakhalina has been named the interim diving coach for the remainder of the 2014 season.
"I want to thank the University of Houston for all of the opportunities I have been given throughout my career with them," said Figueiredo. "I have loved my time with the university and want to wish them the best for the future."
Pakhalina brings an impressive track record to the position of interim head diving coach. The native of Penza, Russia, won an Olympic Gold Medal with Figueiredo as her coach in the three-meter synchronized diving event during the 2000 Sydney Games. At the 2004 Athens Games, Pakhalina claimed a silver medal in the 3m synchronized diving and a bronze in the 3m individual springboard. She captured two silver medals (3m synchronized and 3m springboard) during the 2008 Olympics.
In her competition days at the University of Houston, Pakhalina was a two-time NCAA Diver of the Year (2001, 2003) as she totaled five national championships during that span. Pakhalina won 64 of the 66 collegiate diving events in which she entered as a Cougar with her only losses coming during the finals of the NCAA Championships.
Since retiring from life as a competitor, Pakhalina turned to coaching and has been alongside Figueiredo as part of the coaching staff on the Cougar Diving Club.
"I am excited for the start of Yulia's coaching for the program that she made such a significant impact on," said head swimming coach Rich Murphy. "Yulia is a huge part of our tradition of success and I am confident she will be an asset."
Figueiredo, a Harare, Zimbabwe native, departs with an unheralded resume. As head diving coach she won conference Diving Coach of the Year honors every year since 2002 (12 consecutive seasons) and was named NCAA Diving Coach of the Year four times (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010). She graduated from UH in 1987 following an outstanding career as a five-time All-American student-athlete and was the longest tenured coach at Houston.
Inducted into the school's Hall of Honor in 2010, Figueiredo recruited and coached world class talent at the University of Houston having 14 divers earn 51 All-America honors and leading two of those divers to eight NCAA Titles.
"There is no simple way to capture how much of a legacy Jane leaves with us at the University of Houston. Jane has embodied excellence at our university for many years. As noteworthy as her coaching and her own diving accomplishments are, they do not compare to the spirit, passion, and commitment she has for relationships and the people in her life; it is that asset that British Diving is fortunate to get," said Murphy.
"Jane deserves the best and I wish her great fortune as she helps her athletes excel on the Olympic stage. On a personal level as her friend, I am thrilled for her wonderful opportunity."