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Wooster’s longtime diving coach inducted into Hall of Fame

Megan Zerrer
Sports Editor

Rich Blough, The College of Wooster’s current assistant diving coach, was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame last Friday, Sept. 23 at a ceremony in Atlanta, Ga., He was the lone diver to be inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame this class.

Blough attended Hiram College for his undergraduate studies and was awarded All-American honors three times during his undergraduate career in swimming and diving. Upon graduating from Hiram, Blough continued his swimming and diving career in international competitions, during which he claimed 19 gold medals.

Two years ago, Blough rejoined Wooster for his second coaching stint, his 26th year with Wooster overall. He spent nearly 24 years with the program, from the early 1980s to 2000s, when he coached his student-athletes to 12 All-American certificates.

On top of that, Blough’s Wooster divers have earned 21 all-North Coast Athletic Conference accolades in what is considered to be one of the toughest conferences in Division III.

One of Blough’s stand-out athletes was Liz Helstein. Her fifth-place showings in the one and three-meter boards at the 1995 NCAA Division III Championships ranked as the highest finish by a diver in program history. Helstein’s senior year at the College marked a special milestone in her diving career when she became the first diver in NCAC history to win on the same board all four years of her career at the conference level when she took home her fourth first-place finish in the one meter diving competiton. Helstein was inducted into the Wooster Athletic Hall of Fame this month.

In addition to contributing his skill and knowledge at the College, Blough has coached at a variety of other schools, including the University of Kansas, Topeka West High School and numerous high schools in Ohio.

Wooster’s longtime swimming and diving coach remains active on the national scene as well. He has served as a referee at the NCAA Division III Championships for the last 17 years, in addition to working as a diving judge at the Division II Championships.

Blough has made wonderful impressions not only on the students he has worked with, and the ones he continues to work with, but on athletic department staff as well. Rob Harrington, Wooster’s head swimming and diving coach, who is in his 14th year at the College, had nothing but good things to say about his coworker. “Rich Blough is a world class diver and coach,” said Harrington.

“It is truly an honor to have him as a member of The College of Wooster’s Swimming and Diving Team’s coaching staff,” Harrington said. When asked if a specific moment came to mind that exemplified Blough as an incredible coach, he answered, “I don’t think there is one specific moment in my memory that exemplifies Rich as a diving coach. I believe it is the coaching qualities I observe him use daily in practice and at meets that makes him great and sets him apart.”

When discussing what qualities a coach must have to make a lasting impression on their athletes, Harrington said, “I believe for coaches to be successful they have to have knowledge of their sport, the ability to motivate their athletes and the capacity to show compassion for their athletes. Rich is the embodiment of all of these characteristics.”

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