After longtime women’s swimming and diving coach Jim Richardson announced his retirement in May, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon had a tough task to find Richardson’s replacement.

But on Friday, Brandon found his replacement.

Men’s swimming and diving coach Mike Bottom was announced as the new head coach of the women’s program, an announcement that effectively combines the men’s and the women’s programs under Bottom.

“I can think of no better person to lead our swimming and diving programs than Mike Bottom,” Brandon said in a statement released by the athletic department on Friday. “Mike brings a wealth of experience at the collegiate, international and Olympic level. He has led our men’s program to a championship level and will work to return our women’s program to that same level. Our aquatic programs have a rich history and tradition at all levels and high expectations will continue under Mike’s leadership.

“This announcement is the beginning of a substantial commitment to our swimming and diving programs,” Brandon added. “We plan to make a significant investment at Canham Natatorium in the near future. It’s the right time to combine our programs and to utilize Mike’s talents for the benefit of Michigan Swimming and Diving.”

Bottom led the men’s program to the Big Ten team title last year, and has coached many Michigan Olympians, including Tyler Clary — who won the men’s 200m backstroke in London— and Connor Jaeger — who will return to Michigan for his junior year after placing 6th in the 1,500m freestyle in London.

Bottom is also the three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year on the men’s side in addition to coaching the Serbian National swim team in London for the 2012 Olympic Games. His accolades, both on a collegiate and international level, include coaching Olympic medalists and 19 swimmers to national titles.

“This is really a great opportunity and advantage for both of our programs and the student-athletes should be the ultimate beneficiary,” Bottom said in the statement. “We will have the opportunity to add excellent coaches to our current staff. We can combine the administrative work that has been done by both the men’s and women’s staffs and allow the coaches to focus more on the training, coaching and mentoring of the student-athletes. The future looks bright for the men and women associated with Michigan Swimming and Diving.”

And after coaching the men’s team at Michigan — a position he has held for four seasons — he will be the new face of the entire Wolverine swimming and diving program.

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