New Mexico has opportunity to rise up the rankings
Lobos take second straight contest against intrastate rivals
New Mexico looks for second straight victory against NMSU Aggies
New Mexico faces Wyoming this Friday before swimming against Northern Colorado on Saturday
New Mexico improves to 4-3 under Kunio Kono
Kunio Kono joined the University of New Mexico as the new swimming and diving head coach on June 26, making him only the fourth head coach in the programs history.
Kono comes to UNM after speding the last nine years with the Rebels of UNLV. During his time at UNLV he helped the men's team to seven consecutive Mountain West conference championships before the team was runner up in 2011-2012 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
While at UNLV he guided the Rebels men's and women's sprint groups and coached 16 swimmers to 46 All-America citations. Over the past five years he sent several swimmers to the World University Games, World Cup, Pan Pacific Championships, Pan American Games, the European Championships and six swimmers to the last three Olympic Games in Athens (2004), Beijing ('08) and London ('12).
Kono joined the Rebels from the University of Alabama, where he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach. He was responsible for coaching the sprint groups and assisted in the recruiting efforts. Kono coached seven swimmers to 16 All-America honors, and in 2003 the Tide men had their highest national finish since 1994, taking 12th place. The women posted their highest finish since 1996, taking 15th at the 2002 NCAA meet.
During his tenure at Alabama, Kono also was the head coach of the Masters Swim Team. He coached eight of the highest point scorers in different age groups and led his team to the Alabama State Masters Meet title in spring 2003.
From 1994-2001, Kono served as the men's and women's swimming operations manager at the University of Arizona. During those seven seasons, the Wildcat men's swimming program finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships five times - including a third-place finish in 2000. Kono also helped the women's team into the top-five in the nation for six years and to the highest finish in Arizona's history, when it finished second at NCAA in 2000. In his time at Arizona, he helped coach 15 men and 16 women to All-America honors and coached seven student-athletes that went on to participate in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
Kono spent the 1993-94 season as a volunteer assistant coach with the USC Trojans Swim Club and coached several swimmers who went on to compete in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Kono is a 2003 graduate of the University of Alabama with a master's degree in health science. He earned his undergraduate degree in visual communication from the University of Arizona in 2001. He is married to Miho Kawabe, bronze medalist in synchronized swimming at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. They have one son, Yushi.