Rafael Ortiz

Head Assistant Coach

Rafael Ortiz has served as the volunteer assistant coach for the North Carolina swimming and diving program since February 2020.
 
Ortiz began his coaching career in Cuba as the head coach for the province of Camagüey in 1993. He later worked as an assistant coach and manager of the 13 and under age group for COM Aquatics in Midland, Texas, and then took over as the head coach for the North Carolina Dive Club.
 
He has been awarded coach of the year honors four times as the best coach in his state and was elected twice as the best coach among more than 50 sports in the province of Camagüey. Ortiz was awarded the best coach of the state championship on five occasions and earned the distinction of the best coach at the 2003 National Diving Championship in Cuba.

Ortiz, who obtained more than 300 medals between state and national championships in Cuba, saw more than 80 percent of their athletes turn into state and national champion divers. He helped promoted more than 20 athletes to the national team and they went on to become Central American and Pan-American medalists, and participated in World Cups, World Championships and the Olympics. As the coach of the Camagüey Province, Ortiz assisted in them winning 20 consecutive top national places.
 
Ortiz’s first coaching opportunity in the United States came thanks to a recommendation from current Carolina head diving coach Yaidel Gamboa, a former national champion diver in Cuba. At COM Aquatics, Ortiz achieved more than 100 medals between regional, zonal and national championships, and won a team title at the 2019 National Zonal competition.

All of Ortiz’s athletes age 13 and under earned medalist honors at the regional and zonal championships. The club achieved several gold, silver and bronze medals at the championship meet that allowed COM Aquatics to rise eight places to finish ninth in the nation. 

Ortiz competed in various state and national championships where he was a multi-medalist every year from six years old to 18 years old. As a member of the youth national team from 1986-1990, he competed in national and international events such as the Cuba Cup and Youth Friendship Games. Ortiz achieved the distinction of national champion four times and was the best athlete at the national championships event once. 
 
Ortiz and his family are dedicated to the sport of diving. His wife, Julia is a Spanish Cuban, and they have been married for more than 23 years. She graduated as a bachelor of sports sciences and dedicated more than 20 years as a diving coach until the last day the couple  left Cuba. Julia worked with young girls and boys between six and eight years old. The dedication displayed by Julia to the profession allowed her to have the privilege of being the best coach in the state and in Cuba for seven consecutive years.
 
Ortiz’s two children were also divers - their oldest, Jeniffer - is a Cuban American citizen who trained under Ortiz. She was a part of the National Diving Team of Cuba until she emigrated to America. That opportunity opened the door for other members of the family in the world of diving. 

Jeniffer represented Puerto Rico in the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and the Pan American Championships where she achieved medals. She is currently an executive who works for Netflix. 

Ortiz’s son, Rafael, is also Spanish Cuban who practiced diving for more than four years and was also a national champion. In the same way that Ortiz was a coach of Yaidel Gamboa years later, Yaidel was a coach of his son as well.
 
Ortiz’s favorite hobbies are spending time in outdoor physical exercises such as bike riding, rowing, running and going to the gym. He also enjoys listening to music, dancing, relaxation and fun.
 
Ortiz graduated as a bachelor in sports sciences in 1999 in the City of Havana, Cuba and in 2010 he graduated with a Master’s degree in sports sciences and community physical activity in Havana.