COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State swimming and diving program has added Ignacio Gayo to the swim coaching staff, Bill Dorenkott, director of swimming and diving, announced Friday. Gayo will take on the role of associate head coach of the Buckeyes.
“Ignacio is a rising star in our profession,” Dorenkott said. “He comes to Ohio State with the highest of recommendations from across the country. We believe Ignacio has the work ethic and vision to help elevate Ohio State swimming and diving to a higher level in the Big Ten, NCAA and internationally.”
Prior to joining the Buckeyes, Gayo made coaching stops at Northwestern, Florida International and Missouri State in addition to international coaching stints with the Botswana Swimming Federation National Team and at the Commonwealth Games.
“My family and I are beyond grateful for the opportunity to join Buckeye Nation,” Gayo said. “Over the past few years, I have witnessed how this team keeps raising the bar both nationally and internationally. I feel honored to join such a talented group of student-athletes and eager to help increase the level already established.”
As an assistant coach for the Wildcats, Gayo coached the sprinters, butterflyers and relays to top five Big Ten finishes and NCAA cuts. Under his guidance last season, sprinters Maddie Smith and Jasmine Nocentini and flyer Miriam Guervara earned A Final finishes in two events a piece at the Big Ten Championship meet. Smith and Nocentini finished top eight in the 50 and 100 free while Guervara took fourth and fifth in the 100 and 200 fly, respectively.
In his first season at Northwestern, Gayo helped Smith to a silver medal finish in both the 50 and 100 free at the 2021 Big Ten Championships. She went on to take seventh and first team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships that same year.
Gayo also assisted in coaching the NU relays, helping the women’s team to four top 16 finishes at the 2021 NCAA Championships, marking the first time in school history that four relays scored at the national championship meet. During the 2021-22 campaign, all five women’s relays set school records and the 200 and 400 medley relays earned honorable mention All-America status. The men’s team qualified both the 200 and 400 medley relays for the 2022 NCAA Championship meet under Gayo’s tutelage.
Prior to arriving at Northwestern, Gayo spent 10 years on staff at FIU in both an associate head coach and assistant coach capacity. He oversaw the team’s international and domestic recruiting efforts while helping lead the program to six consecutive conference titles from 2015 to 2020. He also earned a second master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science from FIU.
During his tenure at FIU, Gayo coached four individuals to NCAA qualification, including four consecutive NCAA Championship meets for standouts Johanna Gustafsdottir and Naomi Ruele. He also guided the 400 free relay to the program’s first NCAA relay bid in 2017.
“The number one characteristic we sought in the hiring of Ignacio is his ability to connect with young people,” Dorenkott said. “He is a humble and hardworking individual who has brought value to every institution he has touched as an athlete and as a coach.”
Gayo is a 2008 and 2011 graduate of Missouri State University, where he earned both his bachelor’s degrees in computer information systems and information technology service management and master’s degree in administrative studies with emphasis in sports management. He was team captain for the Bears during his senior year and was named the Missouri State Freshman of the Year in 2004 and MSU Outstanding Student-Athlete in 2006. He also earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 2004 and 2005.
Gayo began his coaching career at MSU as the Bears’ graduate assistant from 2008 to 2010, serving as the international recruiting coordinator and coach of the sprint, backstroke and fly groups. He helped the women’s program to Missouri Valley Conference Championships in 2009 and 2010.
“A special thank you to Athletic Director Gene Smith and Director of Swimming and Diving Bill Dorenkott for the opportunity to be part of such an accomplished program,” Gayo said. “The entire support and coaching staff made my wife and I feel extremely welcomed and we cannot wait to be part of this Ohio State swimming and diving program.”