UVA and Tech swim coaches go along for the ride with athletes to Tokyo Olympics

Japan 2020

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Sergio Lopez Miro remembers his time as an Olympian when he competed at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 games.

“I’m just trying to be honest,” Lopez Miro said. “It was work and work and then I lost a little bit of who I was because of the success so I don’t remember much.”

The Virginia Tech swimming and diving head coach competed for Spain in swimming, winning bronze in Seoul. These days, he has fonder memories of his Olympic experiences as a swim coach.

“I’ve been a coach already three times in the Olympics. I’ve gone to the Opening Ceremony. I’ve gone to enjoy all the things. I’ve gone sightseeing because I don’t have to rest between the days.” Lopez Miro said. “I got to see much more and to enjoy.”

Not that there isn’t business to take care of when Lopez Miro goes to the Summer Games. In Tokyo, he’ll once again be guiding Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, who looks to repeat the success he had at the Rio Olympics in 2016. That’s when Schooling won gold in the 100 meter butterfly over American superstar Michael Phelps.

“For me I’m the kind of guy who likes to get up, get in someone’s face and just like, ‘let’s freakin go’. So I’m that kind of guy, you need someone like Serg to balance me out,” Schooling said. “One thing Serg does really well is he keeps track of the big picture. He allows me to express myself but at the same time he makes me a better version of it.”

Virginia swimming and diving head coach Todd DeSorbo.

In Charlottesville, Todd DeSorbo recalls when he got the invite to become an assistant swim coach for the United States. The moment happened when head coach Greg Meehan asked him at the Olympic Trials in Omaha.

“He said, ‘Hey, is it safe to assume that if you’re asked to be on the coaching staff that you’ll say yes? And I said, ‘uh yeah’,” DeSorbo said laughing.

Among DeSorbo’s duties in Tokyo will be to mentor his four swimmers from the University of Virginia at their first Olympics.

“I didn’t put these athletes athletes on the US Olympic Team, these athletes put me on the US Olympic team,” DeSorbo said. “It’s a dream come true from a professional perspective and my professional goals, this is the biggest goal I have.”

DeSorbo’s role carries greater importance at the Summer Games, with international fans, including athletes’ families, banned from attending the events in person in Tokyo. Kate Douglass will be competing in the 200 meter individual medley this summer and says she’ll benefit from DeSorbo’s presence on the Olympic team.

“It’s so great that he’s going. I think I’d be a little bit nervous if he wasn’t because he’s been such a big part of my journey to get here in practice, in training and mentally and emotionally,” the junior swimmer said. “Having him there is just, it definitely puts me at ease and makes me feel a lot more comfortable with the whole process.”

While the spotlight will be on the athletes in Tokyo, the coaches are just as honored to be part of the journey.

“Pretty special moment for me from that perspective,” DeSorbo said. “Not nearly as cool as these women hitting the wall and seeing their name on the scoreboard knowing that they are on the Olympic team but as a coach it’s about the coolest thing that can happen.”

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