U of L didn't have to look far for a championship caliber diving coach or an Aquatic Director for the Ralph Wright Natatorium.
U of L alumni Mike Zehnder returns as the mentor for the diving Cardinals and is the aquatic director as well. In all, he has coached the Cardinal Divers for a total of 15 years.
In 2012, Hannah Gadd, Lindsey Stevens, Emily Stalmack and Nikolas Sachs competed at the NCAA Zone C. In 2011, Lindsey Stephens, Hannah Gadd, Cameron Dehn and David Zamkov went to Zones. Gadd made school history that year when she advanced to the NCAA finals. In 2010, Hannah Gadd was the BIG EAST Champion and five divers advanced to the NCAA Zone meet. In 2009, four divers went to the Zone B Championships. In 2008, Robbie Lewis finalled at BIG EAST and two Cardinals went to the Zone B Championships. In 2007, a program-best four U of L divers competed at the Zone B event. In 2005, he earned Diving Coach of the Year when Robbie Lewis swept all three diving events and was named Conference USA Diver of the Meet. That isn't the only recognition that Zehnder has received. He was also named the Midwest Championship Diving Coach of The Year in 2001 and the Conference USA Diving Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005. In 2010, Zehnder earned his first BIG EAST Diving Coach of the Year honor.
"As a Louisville Alumni, Mike brings a great connection between the Cardinal's past and present. Over his tenure at Louisville, he has established himself as an outstanding diving coach respected nationally," said Arthur Albiero, U of L head swim coach.
A former U of L diver (1971-75), Zehnder is considered one of the finest coaches in the southeast. He also coaches at Louisville Area Diving in Louisville.
Earning his stripes as the diving coach at Louisville's legendary Lakeside Swim Club, Zehnder has coached the elite age-group divers as well as U of L's Sean Wilkinson, who was a four-time Diver of the Year. For more than 30 years he has coached divers to spots at the National Age-Group and Senior National Championship as well as coaching numerous divers to the Indiana and Kentucky State High School diving championships. He had a part in producing two Olympic divers, including Amy McGrath Watson and Ellen McGrath Owen. Zehnder has also had more than 70 divers receive diving scholarships during his coaching tenure.
"He has produced remarkable results at the realm of our diving squad. Shortly after I met Mike, I realized why he has continued being able to motivate young athletes," said Arthur Albiero. "His mild mannered personality and very creative coaching style sets up a great environment for athletes to succeed in the pool and in the classroom."
Under his tutelage, U of L produced the first female national qualifier when Jenny Goldberg qualified for the NCAA Zone Meet in 1990-92. Since then, Cardinal divers are a mainstay at the NCAA Zone meets. A native of Louisville, he graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1970 and earned a bachelor of science in commerce in 1975 from U of L.Mike and his wife, Jenny, have one daughter Kimberly, and two sons, Nicholas and Scott.