MARION — The last official act for Ivan Sanchez as Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s girls’ swimming coach was to get thrown into the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center pool.
Even though the high school season has three weeks remaining, Sanchez coached his final meet for the Cougars at Saturday’s Mississippi Valley Conference meet.
He has accepted a position as the assistant coach for the Southern Illinois men’s and women’s swimming program, beginning next Monday.
The Cougars finished third behind Iowa City West and Cedar Falls at the MVC meet. After climbing out of the pool, he talked about the decision to return to his alma mater, where he was a standout performer from 2001 to 2005.
“It was something I wanted to do,” he said. “I went through the application process and I got the call last Thursday that I got the job.”
Sanchez, who replaced John Ross at Kennedy before last season, will be reunited with his college coach, Rick Walker, who has been the SIU head coach since 1992.
“Going back to work with my college coach is exciting,” he said. “Their season has already started. That is why I can’t stay and finish the season here.”
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Cougars assistant coaches Igor Sanchez (Ivan’s brother) and Jody Petersen, along with diving coach Leslie Nelson, will run the team the rest of the season.
“This group is set up for great things,” Ivan Sanchez said of the Cougar program going forward. “I’m not going to be here (for regionals and state), but I will be following their results for sure.”