Dwight Dumais’ coaching philosophy is pretty straight forward.
“It’s making everything simple,” he said. “I go back to basic fundamentals and try to make that as perfect as possible. Perfect is obviously a matter of perspective, and at no point is anything or any technique going to be perfect. At the same time, you can get it so grounded and so rooted that it can be nearly automatic.”
Dumais’ decision to become Arizona’s new diving coach was, as you might guess, simple. Credit the timing.
When Arizona first began looking for a diving coach to replace Omar Ojeda in April, Dumais’ life was complicated. He was thinking of leaving the sport to return to school for physical therapy. And while the UA position was attractive, he said the timing wasn’t right.
Four months later, Arizona was looking again. It was complicated: The UA had hired John Appleman away from Ohio State’s club team, but rescinded the offer after the coach was suspended by USA Diving, the sport’s governing body.
This time, however, Arizona felt right to Dumais. He accepted the job Aug. 27 and was on the road recruiting a few days later.
If Dumais’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he is part of American diving royalty. His brothers, Troy and Justin, were both Olympians. Troy won 38 U.S. titles and took home a bronze medal in synchronized diving at the 2012 Olympic Games. Their sister, Leanne, dove at Northwestern. Another brother, Brice, competed at SMU.
Dwight Dumais was a five-time All-American and two-time national champion at Stanford. He was coaching for the prestigious Longhorn Aquatic Club when Arizona coach Augie Busch hired him away.
The Star talked to Dumais, 32, about the state of the UA diving program, why he selected UA, and the pressure of following one of the best divers of all time:
On why he took the UA job: “Because it was a great opportunity. I was coaching at Longhorn Aquatics at the University of Texas and was having some pretty good success there. But it’s not the NCAA level. I had originally looked at applying for the job when it opened up, I believe in April. My life was just too chaotic at that particular juncture. I wasn’t sure if diving was the thing. I had been diving since the womb, considering my family lineage. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do it. Then, this opened up and Augie gave me a phone call and said, ‘Hey, are you interested?’ So I came out here and heard him out. It’s the vision that Augie and his staff are trying to put together at the University of Arizona. He’s really trying to bring them back to the national championship discussion. There is a commitment to excellence, a commitment to accountability, and I’m very much interested in doing that.”
On coming back to Pac-12 after diving for Stanford: “I’m excited. That was also one of the selling points for this job. I grew up on the West Coast, I’ve competed at all of these university pools, whether they’ve been renovated or not. I’ve known most of the club coaches around here. It’s very, very familiar for me. Yet, it’s not my alma mater, which is Stanford, but at the same time, it’s still the Pac-12 … and it’s the ‘Conference of Champions.'”
On how close the UA program is to competing for a national championship: “(Diver) Delaney (Schnell) has the ability to win a national title this upcoming year if we can fix a few small mechanical issues. The program is not far off, but we do need to get some recruitable talent in here to help develop and push the program to another level. It’s my job to go out and seek out the younger talent and make sure we get them at this university.”
On his connection to Schnell: “Luckily, I’ve been around the sport for so long I’ve coached Delaney in multiple international meets, particularly in 2016 or 2017 at the Malaysia Grand Prix and also at the Australian Grand Prix. So, I’ve had a ton of contact with her; even at high-performance camps, as well.”
On the influence his brother, Troy, has had on him as a coach and an athlete: “Troy has been a wonderful asset to bounce ideas off of, both from an athletic standpoint and from a coaching standpoint. He’s always willing to help out and educate and try to make better divers. He’s really interested in the business of progressing this sport and in keeping people vested in this sport. Without a doubt, he was the benchmark or the standard in this country for too many years. To be able to do what he did at that level for so many years is almost asinine; it was unheard of. He probably one of the greatest divers to ever come out of this country. Definitely in the likes of Greg Louganis — although Greg Louganis had much more success at the Olympic level. But the sport is different. I would say the sport is much-more well-rounded around the world. So, it is a little more difficult, but at the same time that’s not to undermine what Greg did. Greg was incredible. But, Troy was in that discussion.”
On teaming with his brother, Justin, in synchro diving and winning the 2012 nationals: “I loved every minute of it. Troy was locked into a partner with Kristian Ipsen at that time and they were seen as the team. Justin came back for a year. He had been flying F-16s in Columbia, South Carolina, (for the Air Force) and found out he also missed it. He decided to give it one last go, considering it was 2012. He came back and did an incredible job for the amount of training he was not able to do over the Olympic four-year period. That was it. I was the best solution for the dives that he was good at. So we tried it, matched up really well. I guarantee you we had our ups and downs, because we are both two very strong personalities – especially when it comes to the diving well. If you asked him today, we loved competing with each other at that finals at the Olympic Trials. So, also winning the title in 2012, that sits well with us.”