The Annual Paragon Awards, sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems, are presented for outstanding contributions to: Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Competitive Diving, Aquatic Safety, Synchronized Swimming and Recreational Swimming.
USA Diving High Performance Director
2013 Paragon Award / Competitive Diving
USA Diving High Performance Director Steve Foley is one of the best in the world at his job.
Foley joined the USA Diving staff after the 2008 Olympics and was charged with developing a plan to return the U.S. to international prominence and to the Olympic podium. The U.S. had not medaled at an Olympics since 2000 and USA Diving was looking to change that in London.
The U.S. came home from the 2012 Olympic Games with four medals, one gold, one silver and two bronze, for its best showing since 1988.
Foley, who has nearly 40 years of experience as an athlete, coach and administrator, shifted the U.S. focus from medals to performance, saying too much emphasis on medals causes extra pressure. He encouraged athletes simply to focus on performing their best and let the results fall where they may.
He placed increased importance on synchronized diving and three of the four U.S. medals won in London came in the synchronized diving events. They were the first Olympic synchronized diving medals won by U.S. divers. He also recognized the importance of looking ahead and began developing plans for 2016, 2020 and beyond, well before the 2012 Olympic Team was selected. Foley implemented a Junior Elite Performance Squad, holding training camps and creating other opportunities for junior divers.
Prior to coming to the U.S., Foley had served as the National Performance Director for British Diving since 2002.
As a consultant for British Diving beginning in 1999, he created the organization’s strategic plans, selection procedures and training workouts. He began a full-time role as National Performance Director in 2002 and his leadership helped guide Great Britain to its first Olympic diving medal in 44 years with a silver medal in men’s synchronized platform at the 2004 Games in Athens.
His responsibilities with British Diving included managing the elite diving program and overseeing coach training programs as well as Junior Olympic and Junior Talent programs. Through the successful junior program, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley was identified.
Foley got his start in diving in Australia, where he was a three-time Olympian (1976, 1980 and 1984) and the first Australian male diver to final in both springboard and platform at the Games (1984). He served as Head Diving Coach and Australian National Coach at the Australian Institute of Sport from 1989 to 1995 and was Head Coach of Australia’s 1992 Olympic Team after attending the 1988 Games as an Assistant Coach. In all, Foley has attended the past 10 Olympic Games in a number of capacities. Foley has coached 15 Olympic finalists, including two medalists and 37 national champions.
From 1979 to 1982, Foley trained under Dr. Ron O’Brien, an eight-time Olympic coach who retired as USA Diving’s High Performance Director in July 2008. In 1983 and 1984, he trained under Steve McFarland while training and working as an age group coach at the University of Miami.
Foley also has a number of years of broadcasting and media experience, working as a diving commentator at the World Championships, World Cup, Commonwealth Games, Goodwill Games and the Olympic Games for a variety of media outlets. His broadcast experience also includes golf and tennis, as he has done radio reporting for the Masters, British Open and Australian Open. Steve has made regular appearances as the diving judge on the new television show “SPLASH” (ABC), starring Greg Louganis as coach of the celebrities.
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