Swimming & Diving Coaches
Florida diving coach Donnie Craine is entering his 36th season as a veteran coach, with 27 of his last 35 years of experience as the Gator diving coach. During his time in Gainesville, his goals of hard work and dedication have been passed on to his student-athletes. By producing a consistent Florida squad season after season, Craine has established himself as one of the most respected diving coaches in the nation.
“Donnie Craine’s reputation speaks for itself. He has shown the ability to craft top-level divers, and to maintain that success through hard work and discipline,” Florida head coach Gregg Troy says. “Coach Craine is, without question, one of the elite diving coaches in the country.”
Last season Craine coached Mike Lewark to the NCAA Championships, the first male diver to compete in six years. Lewark also finished third at the SEC Championships on the platform event under Craine’s guidance.
Prior to that, Craine was named SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year after coaching 2011 SEC Female Diver of the Year Monica Dodson and leading Kara Salamone to the 2010 SEC Female Diver of the Year Award in 2010. Dodson broke the SEC and school records on the three-meter board and on platform in 2011, while it was Salamone’s performance at NCAAs in 2010, along with Monica Dodson on the platform, that helped Craine and the UF women’s swimming and diving team bring home its first national championship since 1982.
Craine molded two 2009 All-American divers in Kara Salamone and Dodson, both of whom have emerged as two of the best divers in recent Florida history.
For the second time in Craine’s storied career, UF had two female divers compete at the NCAA Championships in the same year in 2009, the first being 2007-08 season when Gator Jeana Bartell joined Dodson on the boards at NCAAs.
Salamone garnered two All-American honors at the 2009 NCAA Championship meet, her first as a Gator after transferring from the University of Texas, placing seventh on the platform and 14th on the one-meter diving board. Additionally, Salamone shattered a UF record with her 346.75 three-meter performance at the 2009 SEC Championship meet, good for fourth overall.
Dodson has been one of Florida’s most consistent performers in her first three seasons, earning trips to the NCAA championships all three years. Dodson earned All-America honors in 2008 after finishing eighth in the platform competition, while earning 16th at the 2009 meet and bringing home an All-American Honorable Mention accolade.
Without a doubt, Craine is one of the most experienced diving coaches, and his international experience has served as a base for his ability to mold diving talent. Craine most recently served as the United States diving judge at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, Italy, after also serving as the U.S. judge at the 2008 Junior World Diving Championships that took place in Aachen, Germany, last September.
Craine, now in his second stint with the Gators, first served under former UF head coach Randy Reese from 1976-81. He returned to Florida in 1989 to revive an ailing Florida diving program. During the 1988 season, the Florida men’s diving team didn’t have a diving entrant at the SEC Championships. In the following four seasons, Craine’s divers produced 37, 67, 62 and 70 points, respectively, to help the Gators win four-straight conference crowns. Craine led Florida’s women divers to the top diving team score and was the runner-up for SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year honors in 1990. He also coached Florida’s first SEC champion in platform diving, guiding Jeff Nichols to the title in 1996.
Craine also coached SEC Champions Heather Lawrence (one-meter in 1998) and Robyn Grimes (one-meter in 1999 and three-meter in 2000). He added another SEC champion to his lengthy list when Zach Wilcox won the SEC title on the one-meter in 2003.
In 1985, while at Arkansas, Craine was named the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year and during his career at Louisiana State (1987-89), he was named SEC Women's Diving Coach of the Year in 1987, 1988 and 1989, as well as the 1988 SEC Men's Diving Coach of the Year.
Craine has coached five NCAA champions, including Chris Snode, Florida's first individual national champion, who won the 3-meter in 1978, and Alison (Maisch) Brothers, the 1989 1-meter winner. While at Arkansas, Craine coached two divers to three NCAA titles in 1985. Ronnie Meyer won both the men’s 1-meter and 3-meter events, while Robin (Ford) Ballint claimed the women’s 3-meter title.
Craine's divers have earned an impressive 60 All‑America honors. The most recent came in 2006, when UF freshman Jonathan Wilcox claimed All-America status in the 1M dive at the NCAA Championships.
He served as head coach of the U.S. Diving Team at the 22nd Annual Dive Canada in the summer of 1995. Craine also coached at the 1993 World University Games and the 1991 Pan American Games. At the 1991 Pan Ams, Craine coached 1989 NCAA women’s one-meter champion, Alison Maisch, to two silver medals.
As a competitor at Michigan under coaching legend Dick Kimball, Craine earned third‑place finishes on both the one‑ and three‑meter boards in the 1975 and 1976 NCAA Championships. He was also a 13-time finalist at the U.S. Nationals.
Craine was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in physical education in 1976. Craine and his wife, the former Mindy Sawyer of Indialantic, Fla., have been married 32 years. They are the proud parents of Keith (28), Christopher (26) and Stephanie (22). Keith, married to the former Jesse Hayes (Rome, Ga.), serves as a captain in the U.S. Air Force and flies search and rescue helicopters. Craine and his wife became first-time grandparents when Christopher and his wife, the former Andrea Guy (Gainesville, Fla.), gave birth to Emma Isabelle in August. A 2008 graduate of the University of Central Florida, Stephanie will head to France this fall and work as an au pair for the next year.
The Donnie Craine File
- Birthdate: Nov. 8, 1952
- Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- Education: B.S. in Physical Education, University of Michigan, 1976
- Diving Head Coach, University of Florida, 1976-81
- Diving Head Coach, Arkansas, 1984-85
- Diving Head Coach, Louisiana State, 1987-89
- Diving Coach, Pan American Games, 1991
- Diving Coach, World University Games, 1993
- Diving Head Coach, Annual Dive Canada, 1995
- Diving Head Coach, University of Florida, 1989-present
- 2011 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
- 2010 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
- 2009 FINA World Championships U.S. Diving Judge
- 2008 Junior World Championships U.S. Diving Judge
- 1998 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
- 1998 Knoxville News-Sentinel SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
- 1995 U.S. Dive Canada Team Coach in Quebec, Canada
- 1993 U.S. World University Games Team Coach in Buffalo, N.Y.
- 1991 U.S. Pan American Team Coach in Havana, Cuba
- 1987-89 SEC Diving Coach of the Year
- 1988 SEC Men’s Diving Coach of the Year