LSU’s diving head coach Doug Shaffer will have spent 18 years coaching for the Tigers this year.
Shaffer has had great success with athletes he has coached at LSU and is a vital member of the LSU swimming and diving staff.
Shaffer dove as a high level athlete in his teenage years and represented the U.S. at a number of domestic and international competitions.
One of his most honorable achievements is his national championship title on the one-meter springboard at the LSU natatorium during the 1987 U.S. National Championships.
Shaffer also won the three-meter springboard preliminary event, beating four-time Olympic gold medalist and arguably the most famous diver in the world, Greg Louganis.
As an athlete, Shaffer jumped from state to state, following his coaches, Ron O’Brien and the late Van Austin, and didn’t really have a sense of family or a place to call home.
“When I got to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and within the first year I met my now wife, Tracy, who was born and raised in Baton Rouge and has gone to LSU and is currently teaching at LSU, “That rooted me in family here,” Shaffer said. “LSU represented the whole package for me, and family is really important.”
At 56 years old, Shaffer now has 17 years of LSU experience. His 18 years of coaching at LSU makes him the most tenured of anyone currently on the swimming and diving team’s coaching staff.
“He’s a really nice coach and he has been teaching me how to coach and run practices through observation,” said graduate assistant Wendy Zhang. “He’s really fun to work with.”
Shaffer has coached 39 All-Americans, six Southeastern Conference champions and one Olympian in his time at LSU. Shaffer was also named the 2008 SEC Women’s Coach of the Year and the 2016-17 Men’s Coach of the Year.
This year he is excited for the LSU season with three new faces joining the team.
“We have some fantastic talent,” Shaffer said. “I look forward to seeing that talent grow and develop in our environment.”
Shaffer also has big goals with the Tokyo Olympic Games just around the corner and the very realistic potential of LSU athletes qualifying this year.
“It’s a bucket list item to be an Olympic coach,” Shaffer said. “With Elizabeth Cui and what she has done this year and Juan and what he has done at the World Championships, and Anne Tuxen for Norway, I’m very confident that my bucket list item will come to fruition this year.”
Shaffer has had many amazing moments in the course of 18 years but his favorite moment was during Juan Celaya-Hernandez’s 3-meter final at the SEC Championships in 2017, his freshman year. Celaya-Hernandez scored an incredible 105 points on his front four and a half somersaults tuck to take the title.
“The entire team erupting on the other side of the pool,” Shaffer said. “The image that I have of that was just a total team involvement, LSU swimming and diving celebratory sporting moment.”
Shaffer has no plans to retire soon and looks forward to making more memories with the Tigers and continuing to make history.
“He is one of the most experienced people that I’ve been coached by,” Celaya-Hernandez said. “He knows what he’s talking about.”
Editor's note: Elizabeth Cui was a LSU diver from 2015-2019 and competed a the 2016 Olympic Games.