Dave Parrington

Rhodesian diver

David parrington was born in England on 28 July 1955, and grew up in Rhodesia, where he attended the Mount Pleasant High school in Salisbury. He later won a diving scholarship to the University of Houston, and became the diving coach the University of Tennessee. He competed at the 1980 Olym[ic Games as a diver for Zimbabwe. Dave competed in the South African championships with Rhodesian greats like Don and Robin Liebermann, Neil and Terry Duveen, Lena Pretorius, at a time when Rhodesian divers dominated the competition.

His parents Frank Parrington and Lillian Preece were both swimming coaches. Lillian was a British Olympic swimmer at the 1948 and 1954 Olympic Games. His brother Martin was awarded Springbok colours water polo player for South Africa in 1978.

Dave Parrington in 1966

Dave with fellow Rhodesian diver Debbie Hill at Houston, 1979.

His biography at the University of Tennessee :

Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington, a successful athlete on both the collegiate and international levels, has translated that athletic excellence into a high degree of proficiency in the coaching ranks. Parrington has received countless honors within every conceivable realm of the diving community and begins his 21st season coaching Vol divers.

Parrington arrived on Rocky Top in 1990 and got right down to business. In the first decade of his tenure at Tennessee, he coached Vol divers to 17 Southeastern Conference championships. His wealth of experience and teaching ability was displayed in the successes of his athletes.

The Harare, Zimbabwe, native owns an impressive resume. The SEC has named Parrington Men's Diving Coach of the Year (1994, '96, '98, '99, 2000, '01) and twice the SEC Women's Coach of the Year (1997, 2003). Since arriving on The Hill, Parrington has produced 73 men's and women's All-America selections, six NCAA champions and 29 SEC champions. His divers have combined to break school records 83 times, and he has coached eight USA Diving national champions.

At the 2011 SEC Championships, Michael Wright became the fifth Vol to win the 1-meter diving event during the Parrington era.

Tennessee divers during the Parrington era have competed at the Olympics, World Championships, World University Games, World Diving Cup, Pan American Games, the Commonwealth Games and the African Games a combined 25 times. In addition to international success, Parrington's divers have earned SEC diver of the year honors 10 times and five times he coached the SEC's freshman diver of the year-- including current UT diver Ryan Helms. During the 1999 and 2000 SEC championships meets, Parrington coached Gabi Chereches to an SEC Commissioners Trophy, awarded to the swimmer or diver with the highest point total at the meet.

Parrington coached Zimbabwe's Olympic team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as well as the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Other Olympic service includes two stints (1998, 2008) as a judge at the U.S. Olympic diving trials and a selector for the USA Olympic team selection camp hosted at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. He also served the United States' diving team as a coach for the 1997 World Cup qualifying and championships rounds and was rewarded with the USA Diving Coaches Award of Excellence.

Before he arrived in Knoxville, Parrington spent seven years as the head diving coach at his alma mater the University of Houston.

As a student-athlete, Parrington competed in the 1980 Moscow Olympicsrepresenting Zimbabwe in both he three-meter and platform events. Parrington also played for Zimbabwe's national diving and water polo teams.

In August 2008, former UT head football coach Phillip Fulmer endowed $250,000 for the Dave Parrington Tennessee Diving Scholarship. The gift was a token of gratitude for Parrington's many years coaching Fulmer's daughter and former Lady Vol diver Brittany.

In the summer of 2009, Parrington married UT swimming and diving massage therapist Marie Wilson. She has been a part of the program for nine years and is a Knoxville, Tenn., native. She has three children Jeff, Brent and Derek and five grandchildren Emily, Zachary, Camille, Blake and Maggie.


PARRINGTON HAS BEEN EVERYWHEREHank Snow long ago sang a traveling song, “I’ve been everywhere.”

Then I met Dave Parrington, big man in town, 6-2½ and 280. He really has been everywhere.

Born in England, raised in South Africa, college in Houston on a diving scholarship, competitor in the Moscow Olympics and coach in the Atlanta and Sydney Games.

In 25 years as Tennessee diving coach, he has led Volunteers to other Olympics, World University Games, World Championships, World Diving Cup, Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games and African Games – a combined 25 times.

He has been other interesting places as a recruiter.

Among his favorite holiday outings have been soccer games in Liverpool and a canoe trip down the Zambezi River, home to the hippopotamus, crocodile, bull shark and Victoria Falls, the world’s largest.

Adventures? He’s had a few others.

Dave was born in Wallasey (so was Malcolm Lowry, author of “Under the Volcano”).

Francis Winder Parrington, his grandfather, still holds the world record for distance diving.

Dave’s parents were prominent swim coaches. His mother had been a two-time Olympic swimmer.

The British were encouraging young professionals to join the English colony of Southern Rhodesia. Dave says his folks were adventurous and moved to Salisbury. He was 3.

“I grew up in the water,” he said. “The pool my parents managed was across the street from our home, 30 seconds away.”

It was a middle-class lifestyle, three servants, excellent education.

English roots, allegiance to the crown, one year of mandatory national service – at 19, Dave signed up for the British South Africa Police. He stayed three years. It became a life-and-death job.

Rhodesia was locked in guerilla warfare.

Black opposition to white rule seethed. Violence arrived as terrorism. Ears were severed. Limbs were lopped off. Villagers were killed.

Parrington drove a patrol car. He went to investigate crime reports, sometimes into the bush. Some experiences he described as sickening. He said the necessary discipline shaped his life.

The University of Houston discovered Parrington’s potential as a diver. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and he represented it in international competition. Houston kept him as a coach until Tennessee called in 1990.

Parrington has been least publicized among UT winners. He has coached several great Volunteers, six NCAA and 39 SEC champions. Twelve times he has been honored as coach of the year but it has mostly been a secret.

Now you know.

Fulmers fund Parrington scholarship

Phillip and Vicky Fulmer funded a $250,000 scholarship endowment in 2008 in honor of UT diving coach Dave Parrington.

Daughter Brittany Fulmer was a diving competitor and had been coached by Parrington since age 8.

Vicky Fulmer said: “Our goal was to honor Dave Parrington and recognize all he has accomplished in the swimming/diving world … He is an incredible man who has made a tremendous impact on Brittany’s life, as well as the lives of many young divers and student athletes.”

Phillip Fulmer said: “Creating this scholarship was our family’s way of showing our appreciation for Dave and the role he has played in our family … This endowment will ensure a scholarship for a Tennessee diver for years to come.”

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