Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2008 | People

Bob and Veronica Rydze

By IAM Staff

The Hawkeye athletes who visited UI diving coach Bob Rydze's house were all-Americans, Big Ten and NCAA champions—even Olympians. To Veronica Rydze, they were something more—babysitters.

Now, Veronica—daughter of longtime coach Bob Rydze and Coe College cross-country coach Elaine Rydze, 81MA—has followed her childhood role models to the Hawkeye diving board.

Diving came naturally to Veronica, partly because of her earlier gymnastics training. The strength, grace, and kinesthetic awareness that she exhibited as a gymnast served her well when she turned to diving in the ninth grade. Although she graduated from high school as team captain of the track and diving teams, a Drake Relays competitor, an all-American diver, and a two-time state champion on the one-meter dive, Veronica knew exactly which sport to pursue at college.

"Diving gives me the biggest adrenaline rush in the world," says the UI biology sophomore. "You have to have a little daredevil in you."

Although Bob encouraged his daughter to check out several colleges, she only had eyes for Iowa. Veronica liked the coach's credentials—not only as her dad, but as a wave maker in USA Diving. Bob served as a team leader in the 2008 Olympics and was recently elected chairman of the USA Diving board of directors. "I feel so comfortable with [my dad] as my coach," says Veronica. "I don't know if I'd feel as comfortable with someone else as my coach, because I trust him so much."

Bob may be her coach at the pool, but at home, he's just dad. They don't talk about family issues during practice or diving over the dinner table. While he may worry more about Veronica's performance in the classroom and pool, Bob has the same rules and expectations for everyone on the team. Education comes first, diving second, and everything else third. "It's important to get a good education," he says. "No one's getting a $10 million contract out of diving."

While Veronica recorded one victory and five top-five finishes as a UI freshman, this will be her first season to spend considerable time in the pool. A knee injury during her first semester at Iowa forced her to sit out the rest of the school year in rehabilitation. "[My absence from diving] made me a lot stronger," she says. "It made me realize how much I do love this sport."

Veronica Rydze, a sophomore diver and the daughter of UI diving coach Bob Rydze (pictured), has a family tree that includes an uncle who won a silver medal for platform diving in the 1972 Olympics.