Swim coach has winning past

Published On:
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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The coaches of the ASU swimming and diving team know how to win.

With five NCAA Championships to its credit combined, the new coaching staff is poised to lead the Sun Devils to success this year.

Chief among the staff is Dorsey Tierney-Walker, who was named head coach for the program on May 19.
She takes over for former coach Michael Chasson, who resigned on April 27, after 11 years with the program.

Coming from her most recent position at Auburn, Tierney-Walker brings a winning tradition to ASU.
"I think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year,” Tierney-Walker said. "We're working to create a team, and I say team because everyone has to embrace the concept and the process."

During her four years at Auburn, the Tigers won two national championships — in 2006 and 2007 — and captured six SEC titles.

"Coaching at Auburn was a fantastic experience,” Tierney-Walker said. “The biggest challenge was coming back from a championship and being able to stay at that level."

In its first national title run, Tierney-Walker’s team came back from a 56-point deficit and beat Georgia in the final relay to capture the title.

Every member of the team scored that day, and Tierney-Walker said it reminded her how important each athlete is to the success of the team.

Prior to Auburn, Tierney-Walker was the head coach of the women’s team at Indiana University for seven years.

Tierney-Walker swam for the University of Texas during her collegiate years and was a successful athlete in her own right.

She swam at the Olympic Trials in 1988 and 1992. She also won four gold medals at the Pan American Games.

Tierney-Walker completed her coaching staff last month. The three coaches all have experience with winning at the Division I level, and two of them have previous ties to ASU.

"There is a good balance among us,” Tierney-Walker said of her new staff.

Staying put at his alma mater is Simon Percy, who enters his fifth year at ASU and has been promoted to associate coach.

Percy was a decorated swimmer during his days as a Sun Devil and swam for his native New Zealand during the 1992 Olympics.

Another addition to the staff, assistant coach Demerae Christianson, is also familiar with leading a team to success.

Christianson recently coached at the University of Louisville, where she helped lead the team to its strongest NCAA finish in school history.

Christianson has also worked with Olympic Trials qualifiers at the University of Maryland.

Another new addition to the staff, Brian Pursley, also recently coached for Auburn and helped lead the Tigers to the 2009 NCAA Championship.

Pursley was a two-year letter-winner when he swam for North Carolina State University and served for two years as a graduate assistant for ASU before coaching at Auburn.

In the diving well, coach Mark Bradshaw enters his 13th year with the Sun Devils.

During Bradshaw’s tenure at ASU, six divers have earned four NCAA individual titles and 23 All-American honors. He was also named NCAA Diving Coach of the Year twice.

Tierney-Walker said her philosophy is that there is no substitute for hard work and patience.

Details are important, and the team truly has to embrace the concept and the process for success, she said.

“Overall, 18 to 22-year-olds are not that different anywhere,” she said. “If you give them expectations, they will rise to the occasion.”

Reach the reporter at nicole.klauss@asu.edu.