Feb. 22, 2005
HOUSTON - Former University of Houston diver Yulia Pakhalina was honored Wednesday as the Athlete of the Decade on the Conference USA Swimming and Diving All-Decade Team.
UH diving head coach Jane Figueiredo was named the C-USA Women's Swimming and Diving Coach of the Decade, while current Cougar divers Azul Almazan and Anna Kiess earned places on the 10-woman All-Decade Team.
The Cougars were one of three teams to place three members on the All-Decade Team, joining Cincinnati and TCU in that honor. East Carolina placed the other member on the team.
In only three seasons at UH, Pakhalina established herself as one of the finest female student-athletes in the history of athletics at the school. A five-time NCAA individual national champion and two-time NCAA Diver of the Year, Pakhalina lettered at UH from 2001-03.
She won the first two C-USA 1-meter and 3-meter springboard championships as well as the first platform championship in 2002. During her career, she won 64 of the 66 collegiate diving events in which she competed, including 36 consecutive at one point.
Prior to and following her UH career, Pakhalina made a name for herself at the international level, winning three Olympic medals at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympic games.
Figueiredo was named the C-USA Swimming and Diving Coach of the Decade after building a reputation as one of the finest diving coaches in the world. She was a two-time NCAA Diving Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003, and she has guided three divers to nine All-America honors as a C-USA coach.
Her divers have dominated all C-USA awards over the last three seasons, winning the Diver of the Meet, Diver of the Year and Freshman Diver of the Year accolades.
As a result, it was no surprise that Figueiredo was a three-time C-USA Diving Coach of the Year recipient.
Current junior captain Azul Almazan was named to the All-Decade Team after an impressive first two seasons at UH. She was honored as the 2004 C-USA Diver of the Meet and Diver of the Year and was named C-USA Diver of the Week six times during her collegiate career.
A three-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, Almazan earned three All-American honors during her first two seasons and was honored as the 2003 C-USA Freshman Diver of the Year.
It took only one impressive season for Kiess to earn her place on the All-Decade Team. She was a 2004 NCAA All-American on the 3-meter springboard and platform and won the 2004 C-USA platform and 1-meter springboard diving championship. The 2004 C-USA Freshman Diver of the Year, Kiess was a member of the 2004 C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll during her first collegiate season.
Kiess and Almazan will be in action this week as the Cougars play host to the 2005 Conference USA Women's Swimming and Diving Championship and Men's Invitational at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center Natatorium for the second consecutive season.
That meet begins at 1 p.m., Wednesday and continues through the finals Saturday evening.
Other swimmers and divers named to the All-Decade Team were Maria Oberg (Cincinnati), Marein de Jong (Cincinnati), Ann Degenstein (Cincinnati), Diane Parker (East Carolina), Erin Irons (TCU), Jamie MacCurdy (TCU) and Aimee Moreau (TCU).
Voting on the awards was done by each of the league's current swimming and diving coaches.
In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Conference USA, the league is naming a Team of the Decade for each of the conference's 19 sports.