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Rutgers names Natasha Chikina Diving Coach

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The two-time Olympian is a big time hire for the program.

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship
Abigail Knapton became Nebraska’s most decorated diver under Chikina’s tutelage.
Photo by Darren Carroll/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Rutgers women’s swimming head coach Jon Maccoll announced on Thursday that Natasha Chikina has been hired to his staff as diving coach. She replaces longtime coach Fred Woodruff who recently retired after three decades on the banks.

Chikina comes to Rutgers after serving as head diving coach at Nebraska for the past 16 years. She has had at least one diver earn All-America status over the past six years as well as at least one diver appear in the NCAA Championships the previous eight years. Nebraska earned its best NCAA placement in twenty years this past season and the highest team point total at since 2000.

She most recently coached two Husker divers at the recent Olympic Trials, including the most decorated athlete in program history Abigail Knapton. The six-time All-American finished seventh on 3-meter and fifth on platform.

Previously in her career, Chikina was the assistant head coach at the U.S. Diving Regional Training Center from 2001-05 after working for her alma mater, USC, from 1998-2001.

Chikina was a two-time All-American for the Trojans and a two-time Olympian. She was a two-time Pac-10 champion on the 3-meter and also placed fourth on platform at the 1998 NCAA Championships.

Representing her native Kazakhstan in the 10-meter platform, she finished 15th at the 1996 Atlanta Games and 9th at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Hiring a coach with the credentials of Chikina speaks volumes for the increased support and expectations created under Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs. She made Nebraska into one of the best diving program’s in the country before leaving to come to Piscataway. Chikina instantly becomes one of the most qualified and experienced coaches that Hobbs has hired during his six year tenure. It will be exciting to track the progress for the diving program moving forward under Chikina’s leadership.