Waikel Embraces B1G Challenge

Oct. 8, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — First-year University of Iowa diving coach Todd Waikel knows the Big Ten Conference’s collective strength in the landscape of collegiate diving. He’s aiming to get the Hawkeyes to that level.

“Everything we are doing now is to move the program in that direction,” said Waikel, who joined the Hawkeyes following a seven-year run as the assistant diving coach at Indiana University. “I know that takes time and effort, but that’s where we’re going.”

Waikel is no stranger to leading a successful diving program. During his time with the Hoosiers, he helped guide the team to five Big Ten titles and three top-10 NCAA finishes. He coached one NCAA champion, 47 All-Americans and 14 Big Ten championships and guided seven student-athletes to Big Ten Diver of the Year and Big Ten Diver of the Championship honors.

Waikel knows the transition to an elite-level diving program isn’t come to come overnight, but he doesn’t want to curb his immediate expectations.

“My expectations are what they are,” said Waikel. “When we had our goal meetings, everybody is on board and excited. There are going to be bumps in the road, but we want to move in the direction of where we want to go.”

Official team practices for the Hawkeyes began on Sept. 11, and Waikel has been laying the foundation of his training regime, his system.

“There is certain skill work and things that are done every day in practice that are unique to every coach,” said Waikel. “It takes time to learn that stuff. I feel like everybody is on board, and they know what my expectations are with the staples that I expect every day.”

After the first two weeks of learning the ins-and-outs of Waikel’s system, the light went on for the divers.

“We had a breakthrough two weeks ago,” said Waikel. “Since then everybody has been dialed into what is going on within my system, and that has allowed us to get down to training.”

With eight divers — seven women and just one man — on the roster, Waikel says the 2012-13 season will be one of transition for the program. That doesn’t take away from the fact that he still wants the team to be competitive all-around.

“This year, my blueprint would be for us to be competitive,” said Waikel. “Moving forward, it is very clear we need to be putting kids in finals and winning Big Ten championships.”

It was that opportunity that lured Waikel to Iowa City.

“The Big Ten is historically the toughest, biggest and best diving conference in the land,” said Waikel. “Being in the Big Ten is exciting, and the expectations are high to go against Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State — some teams that have been dominating the country.

“I am up for the challenge… I can’t wait. We have our work cut out for us, but I think we’re on the right path.”