June 20, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Aaron Bell, previously an associate head coach at fellow Atlantic Coast Conference school Virginia Tech, has joined the University of Notre Dame swimming & diving program in the same role, Irish head coach Mike Litzinger announced recently.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Aaron and his family to Notre Dame,” said Litzinger. “The addition of Coach Bell to our staff is exactly what we need moving forward as a combined program. He is an experienced recruiter, has won on every level and is an accomplished coach. Aaron's vision compliments that of our staff and department perfectly, which is to be among the elite programs in the country."
Bell comes to the Golden Dome from Virginia Tech, where he served as the head assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2011-14 and the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from 2014-16.
The Hokies experienced outstanding success during Bell’s five years with the program, as the men’s squad finished in the top four at the ACC Championships all five times, including bringing home an ACC team title in 2014 and a pair of runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, the women’s team placed in the top five each year and posted a runner-up showing in 2013.
For their efforts, the Hokie coaching staff earned two ACC Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year awards in 2012 and 2014.
At the NCAA Championships, both teams scored points each year, with the men securing four top-20 finishes and the women claiming four top-25 showings.
Between the two programs, 72 student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Championships in addition to 24 Olympic Trial qualifiers. Katarina Filova (Slovakia) advanced to the 2012 London Olympics, while Fiona Donnelly (Scotland) participated at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Michal Szuba (Poland) swam at the 2013 World University Games and 2015 World Championships.
A combined 79 school records and four ACC marks fell while Bell coached at Virginia Tech.
On the recruiting trail he helped bring in four consecutive top-20 classes.
In the classroom the Hokies boasted 35 all-ACC Academic Team selections, 40 ACC Honor Roll members and three ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year (Brandon Fiala ’16, Heather Savage ’13 & Logan Shinholser ’12).
“My family and I are beyond excited to join the Notre Dame Fighting Irish family,” said Bell. “Notre Dame is globally known for producing the total student athlete and I am extremely excited about the opportunity to be a part of it. After sitting down with Mike (Litzinger) and Jack Swarbrick, it is clear that Notre Dame will be one to watch on the ACC, NCAA and world stage for years to come.”
Before heading to Blacksburg, Bell served as the assistant swimming coach & recruiting coordinator at the University of Buffalo from 2007-2010 before earning a promotion to head assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010-11.
During his tenure with the Bulls, the men’s team claimed four top-three finishes – including a team championship in 2011 – at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships. For their efforts, the Bulls coaching staff earned MAC Coach of the Year honors three times (2009-11).
Twenty MAC individual champions, 74 school records, four NCAA diving qualifiers and four Olympic Trial qualifiers highlighted his tenure in upstate New York.
Other previous coaching experiences include serving as both a graduate assistant (2004-06) and volunteer assistant (2007) at Ohio and serving as the head assistant coach at the University of Miami (2006).
Bell had a standout career at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania, earning 20 All-America scrolls at the Division II institution. He was a senior national qualifier in 2003 and 2004 and left school as the program record holder in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. In 1999, Bell earned the prestigious Kelly Cup Award, which goes to the Pennsylvania Amateur Athlete of the Year.
He’s a member of USA Swimming and the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Bell graduated from Clarion with a Bachelor of Science in liberal studies in May 2004. He then completed the prestigious coaching education program through Ohio’s School of Recreation & Sport Sciences department in June 2007.
His wife, Courtney, and their two sons, Brody and Landon, join Bell in South Bend.
For more information on the Notre Dame men’s swimming & diving team, follow the Irish on Twitter (@NDMensswimdive). For Notre Dame women’s swimming & diving information, check out @NDWSwimdive.
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in history before earning his master's degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.