Cardinal swimming and diving has found the perfect combination of visionary and architect in head coach Arthur Albiero. In his tenth season as swim coach at the University of Louisville, the Cardinals remain confident they have the right man at the helm as the Cardinals continue to shine in the national spotlight.
In 2012-13, the Cards saw history repeat itself as Albiero led the Cardinal women to their third straight BIG EAST Championship. Coming off that meet, the women sent Devon Bibault (200-fly), Abigail Chin (400-IM), Gisselle Kohoyda (200-breast), Tanja Kylliainen (200-IM, 400-IM, 200-fly) and Kelsi Worrell (100-fly) to the NCAAs as individuals. All five relays (200-, 400-, 800-free relays and 200- and 400-medley relays) qualified adding in relay swimmers Grite Apanaviciute, Krissie Brandenburg, Lindsey LaPorte and Breann McDowell. Worrell, who had the top 100-fly time in the nation going into the meet, finished fourth, to earn All-American status and equal the best-ever NCAA final finish for a woman. Joining her as an All-American was Kylliainen, who finished 8th in the 200-fly. The men sent three individuals: Joao De Lucca (50-free, 200-free, 100-free), Caryle Blondell (100-free, 50-free) and Addison Bray (200-breast). They also added Alex Burtch, Albert Lloyd, Sam Hoekstra and Kameron Chastain as relay swimmers. De Lucca became the second Cardinal in history to win an NCAA Championship, when he took the 200-free from lane one in a 1:33.49, the third fastest time in the history of the NCAA meet. De Lucca was third in the 100-free and 13th in the 50-free. Blondell was an honorable mention All-American, finishing 14th in the 100-free. The 400-free relay team of Caryle Blondell, Joao De Lucca, Alex Burtch and Sam Hoekstra earned All-American status with a fourth place finish, going 2:50.98.
In 2011-12, Albiero led the Cardinals to history making heights. He coached the women to a BIG EAST Championship. In all, 30 Cards were named to the men's and women's All-BIG EAST squad. The men finished as BIG EAST runners-up but sent a school record number 13 swimmers to the NCAA National Championship in Federal Way, Washington. There, the Cardinals celebrated their first-ever national champion when Carlos Almeida won the 200-breast and was runner up in the 100-breast. The men finished an unprecedented ninth in the field and College Swimming Awards named them the Male Break-out Team of the Year. The women made a strong showing at the NCAAs as well, notching its first A-final for Gisselle Kohoyda. After the NCAA, Albiero was named as the coach for Portugal's swim team for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Cardinals sent four swimmers to the Olympics, Eszter Povazsay (Hungary), Joao De Lucca (Brazil), Carlos Almeida (Portugal) and Pedro Oliveira (Portugal). The cherry on top of all this success was being named National Coach of the Year.
In 2010-11, Albiero led both squads to the BIG EAST crown including the women's first ever conference championship. The meet, held in the Ralph Wright Natatorium was a showcase for Cardinal swimming. He earned BIG EAST Coach of the year for the third straight year. He sent a total of seven athletes to the NCAA Championship. In another first, U of L sent it's first diver to the NCAA Finals when Hannah Gadd emerged from the NCAA Zones to advance. Highlights of the NCAA's included Carlos Almeida's third place finish in the 100-breast and a fifth in the 200-breast. In all, seven Cardinals came away with All-American honors. Albiero accompanied Carlos Almeida when he made his third appearance for Portugal at the FINA World Championships, this time in Shanghai, China. Albiero also oversaw U of L's Joao De Lucca, who anchored the 4x100 relay team for Brazil. Pedro Oliveira and Eszter Povazsay represented the Cardinals at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
In 2009-10, Albiero led the men to their first-ever BIG EAST championship and earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors. A record number of men and women qualified for the NCAAs and nine of them earned All-American honors. Carlos Almeida's fifth place in the 200 breast at the NCAA Champions was a benchmark for the program. As success breeds success, Albiero amassed the No. 12 ranked recruiting class in the nation. The Cardinals performed in the classroom as well, highlighted when sprinter Liz Halet became the first-ever athlete of any sport to earn a Fulbright Scholarship. Carlos Almeida and Pedro Oliveira competed at the European Championships that summer and Eszter Povazsay earned a berth on the Hungarian national team.
In 2008-09, Albiero was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year as the Cardinals finished as runners-up in the Championship. With both the men's and women's teams nationally ranked in the Top 25, the Albiero-coached Cardinals then sent a record five women swimmers to the NCAA where they finished 22nd. The men sent seven swimmers and finished 29th at the NCAAs. Then 13 U of L swimmers went to the National Championships and World Championship Swim Trials where Leslie VanWinkle finished 11th in the 200-M IM.
That same year, Cardinals Carlos Almeida and Pedro Oliveira represented U of L and their native Portugal in the World Championships where Oliveira advanced through to the semi-finals and finished 14th in the 200-M butterfly.
In 2007-08, Albiero fulfilled one of his professional dreams as three Cardinals advanced to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was invited to be a member of the Romanian swim coaching staff. Vali Preda represented Romania, Andrei Radzionau swam for his native Belarus and Adam Madarassy swam for Hungary. Arthur was able to assist all three in Beijing. The Beijing Olympics crowned an already stellar season. The men's team finished the regular season ranked No. 23 in the CSCAA dual meet poll. The Cardinals blazed through the BIG EAST Championships where they set seven BIG EAST records and won 13 events. Next up was the NCAA where six men made NCAA qualifying times. Vali Preda, Andrei Radzionau, Chris Lindauer, Adam Madarassy, Carlos Van Isschot and Rafal Kuchta scored enough points to finish 26th of 49 teams. Leslie VanWinkle was the first woman to final in the NCAA Championships for the Cardinals when she scored in the 400-IM. Then Albiero sent nine swimmers to the US Olympic trials right before leaving for Beijing in July.
In 2006-07, the Cardinals set 23 new school records, made 22 NCAA B-cuts, three World University Game participants and a FINA World Championships finalist who earned an Olympic berth for Beijing. Vali Preda was an NCAA finalist after the men's team finished third at the BIG EAST, the highest ever finish. And the success didn't just come in the water, both men and women's teams made CSCAA Academic All-American status. In the summer of 2007, he accompanied Preda and Adam Madarassy to the European Championships where Preda finished 21st and set a new national record for Romania.
In 2005-06, the Cardinals shone under his tutelage. In the inaugural season in the BIG EAST, the Cardinals had three swimmers win a total of five races and the team set 18 school records. Freshman Vali Preda was a three-time BIG EAST champion and qualified for the NCAA Finals in three events. He swam two, finishing 13th in the 200-breast and helped U of L to a final national team ranking of No. 41. In the summer of 200 6, he accompanied Preda to the World Championships in Melbourne, where he finished 21st.
In 2004-05, Albiero helped the Cardinals to 32 school records and an unprecedented outstanding performance at the Conference USA Championship. The men finished second, a school record best, and the women improved two spots from the previous year for fourth. In 2005, U of L had Adam Madarassy who was the Swimmer of the Meet win three individual races and help the men win the 800-free relay. He set nine school records. Amanda Taylor set seven school records, won the 400-IM and was named Freshman Swimmer of the Year. Diver Robbie Lewis swept all three diving evens, setting school records and being named Diver of the Meet. The men ended up ranked No. 27 in the nation. In 2004, U of L had three conference champions with Kleber Ihara, Heather Meng and diver Sean Wilkinson (platform and 1-M) each winning their events.
Albiero worked closely with the architects of the Ralph Wright Natatorium. He oversaw the construction and design of the state-of-the-art home venue as the Cards entered the highly competitive BIG EAST Conference.
Prior to U of L, Albiero came to Louisville via the University of Alabama. He spent four years as an assistant for the University of Alabama and was named the associate head coach at UA for 2001-03.
In 2002-03, the Tide's men had their highest national finish since 1994, taking 12th place after a fifth place finish at the SEC Championships. The women posted their highest finish since 1996, taking 15th place in the NCAA meet after a fourth place finish at the SEC Championships.
And Albiero knows winning. He helped coach Stefan Gherghel, who became the first Alabama swimmer to repeat as NCAA Champion. Gherghel, a 2000 Olympian, won his second consecutive NCAA in the 200-butterfly with a school record. Gherghel's title in 2001 marked the Tide's first swimming NCAA title since 1983. He swam in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Albiero also coached Anne Poleska and Vlad Polyakov at Alabama. Poleska was the NCAA runner-up in the 200-breast and in 2002, she set a new German record for the 200-breaststroke at the World Championships in Barcelona where she placed fourth. She was a bronze medalist in Athens in the 2004 Olympics. Polyakov was runner-up in the 200-breaststroke at the NCAAs as a freshman.
Albiero is credited with being an integral part of the rebuilding of the Alabama swimming and diving program. During his tenure, the Tide returned to the Top 20.
"One of my strengths is my relationship with the athlete. I am demanding but reasonable. I believe that you must enjoy the process of preparation," says Albiero.
"We have a great situation here: a great coaching staff and a fast pool which has brought a new attitude and created momentum for this program that has transformed U of L into a nationally recognized program," said Albiero.
A successful swimmer himself, Albiero was an 18-time All-American swimmer for Oakland University where he helped lead the Pioneers to three straight NCAA Division II team titles. He also earned three NCAA titles and was a Scholastic All-American three of those years.
"I believe you have to have fun to swim fast," said Albiero. "My main goal is to continue to establish a practice environment that is highly conducive to excellence in the classroom and the pool."
After graduation from Oakland in 1996 with a bachelor's in psychology with a minor in exercise physiology, he joined the staff at Kenyon College, a perennial powerhouse in Division III. During his three years at the helm, the Lords and Ladies of Kenyon won six national championships, three for the men and three for the women. Albiero also coached at the club level, working with the Oakland Live Y'ers in Michigan as well as running Oakland's Swim Camp and the Total Performance Swim Camp. He received a Masters Degree in Human Performance Studies - Exercise Physiology from Alabama in 2002.
Albiero is married to the former Amy Comerford, a former standout swimmer at Oakland. The couple has three children, Estefan, Nicolas, and Gabriela.
NCAA National Champion: Joao De Lucca 200-free
Men No. 11 at NCAAs
Women No. 22 at NCAAs
6 Women's Big East Champions
12 Men's Big East Champions
Final National Dual Meet Polls:
Women 16th, Men 19th
8 NCAA All-Americans
28 All-Big East Performers
2 NCAA Individual Women's A-Finalists
2 NCAA Individual Men's A-Finalists
1 NCAA Men's Relay A-Finalist