40 Years of Leadership in American Swimming through Education, Certification and Cooperation


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ASCA celebrates its 40th Birthday in 1998.

It has now been forty years since a small band of coaches put the American Swimming Coaches Association in motion. The original organizers met between sessions of the 1958 Women’s AAU Short Course Nationals at the SMU Pool in Dallas.

That year, the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association was celebrating its 25th birthday, while the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association (CSCAA today) was 36 years old. Today the American Swimming Coaches Association is the largest swimming coaches association in the world, with over 5,200 members, and the largest coaches association in any sport in the world.

Walt Schlueter, coach of the Miami Shores Country Club, provided the original concept. The new organization was to represent club coaches, particularly those in women’s swimming who had no coaching organization to which to go. The membership of NISCA and CSCAA consisted of coaches who were officially coaching in either a high school or college. Unfortunately, at that time many coaches coaching high school and college teams were not accredited personnel of the respective institutions. Therefore, those coaches were not eligible to join either of the existing coaches organizations.

Coaches such as Jim Campbell, Walt Schlueter, Dick Papenguth, John Hussey, host “Red” Barr, Mary Kelly, Peter Daland, George Haines, Phil Hansel, Rose Mary Dawson and Buck Dawson were among those present at that first meeting. Phil Hansel volunteered to be acting Secretary/Treasurer and worked (without charge of funds) out of his new office at the University of Houston.

On December 3, between meetings of the 1958 AAU Convention, the first ASCA Board of Directors was elected in a conference room provided by Robert Tannehill at the Lakeshore Athletic Club. In attendance besides Tannehill were: Donald F. Anderson, William Armstrong, William Burrell, James Counsilman, Ray Daughters, Buck Dawson, Rose Mary Dawson, Ralph D. Erickson, Robert Fountain, James W. Greene, George G. Haines, Phil Hansel, Dr. Hal Henning, C. E. Herzog, Donald S. Hilliard, Adolph Kiefer, Thomas Lamar, Charles McCaffree, Jr., Phil Moriarty, Robert Ousley, David H. Robertson, Mrs. J. T. Thompson and Ben York. The following is a copy of the Official Minutes of the Meeting as they were written in 1958.

Minutes ASCA Chicago IL 12/3/1958

Phil Hansel acted as temporary Chairman and distributed the proposed constitution and bylaws to all those who were present; he then opened the meeting with a discussion of the general purposes and objectives of the proposed group.

Charles McCaffree, swimming coach of Michigan State University, described the College Swimming Coaches Association, which was formed in the 1920’s. He stated that this organization had been very effective in serving collegiate swimming but that another group, such as the one proposed, was also necessary.

Dave Robertson, swimming coach of New Trier High School and president of the Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, stated that his group had performed a similar function for high school coaches. He also expressed the belief that a group such as the one proposed was necessary to serve other areas of swimming.

Ray Daughters, chairman of the National AAU Men’s Swimming Committee, stated that there had been other similar attempts in the past to form a group such as the American Swimming Coaches Association. He went on to say that these attempts had failed because they were “outlaw” groups which did not plan to cooperate with existing organizations. He then stated that he believed this group could make a great contribution to swimming, and that it had a great chance for success because it was designed to coordinate its efforts with those of existing associations, the AAU in particular.

Dr. Harold Henning, Chairman of Swimming in the Central AAU, stated that he felt such a group could be very effective in holding clinics and generally upgrading swimming. He offered the cooperation and support of the Central Association in the venture.

Following this, there was a general discussion on electing a Board of Directors and formally organizing the American Swimming Coaches Association. After many important comments from those present, it was decided that a Board of Directors would be elected at this meeting; and from these directors, the officers of the American Swimming Coaches Association would be elected.

The nominations were then taken, and the following were elected to the Board: William Armstrong, Peter Daland (Robert Gole, alternate), Rose Mary Dawson, George Haines, Phil Hansel, Mary Kelly, Thomas Lamar, Charles McCaffree, Walt Schlueter (Ray Daughters, alternate) and Robert Tannehill.

Following the selection of the Board members, the following officers were elected: Phil Hansel, President; Mary Kelly, First Vice President; Charles McCaffree, Second Vice President and Robert Tannehill, Secretary/Treasurer.

Sixteen members of the group paid their first annual dues, creating an initial fund of $160.00 in the treasury. Phil Hansel, Rose Mary Dawson and Bill Armstrong agreed to create an application blank to be distributed the following day at the National AAU Convention. Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted:
Robert Tannehill, Secretary-Treasurer

A year and several newsletters later, Bob Tannehill resigned and Ralph Wright from the Plantation Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky, replaced him. Phil Hansel continued as President until 1962 and then retired in favor of Charles McCaffree from Michigan State.

The next year McCaffree was replaced by diving coach Dick Smith. At the 1962 Chicago AAU Convention Wright was succeeded as Secretary/Treasurer by Buddy Baarcke of the North Palm Beach Swim Club. During those first four years the original organizers adopted bylaws, selected an insignia and signed up 200-plus members.

Phase II of ASCA began in 1964 under President Jim Counsilman from the University of Indiana and was continued under Walt Schlueter of the Arizona Desert Rats. The energetic secretary during this period was Mike Milliman, coach of the Fresno Dolphins and Morrel High School. He became the first semiprofessional for ASCA by receiving a very modest monthly stipend intended to cover at least a portion of his out-of-pocket expenses. Mike’s house became ASCA’s front office as he began sending out the ASCA Newsletter with regularity. Dave Beaver, coach of the San Leandro Beaver Swim Team, was treasurer. True to his name, Beaver mailed out dues billings with a persistence unique among swim coaches.

Regular ASCA clinics were inaugurated in conjunction with the AAU Conventions, the AAU Nationals and even at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The first formal ASCA Clinic was held during the AAU Convention in Las Vegas which featured a talk given by Walt Schlueter on “Stroke Rhythm and the Percent of Effort.”

The clinics that followed were informal. A panel of three, four or five coaches-of-the-moment were put up in front of their peers to talk about Cynthia Goyette, Catie Ball, Ann Fairly or any swimmer that had picked up a gold medal in a recent competition. The sessions were presided over by Doc Counsilman and were spontaneous and enthusiastically received.

This phase saw a vigorous growth in both ASCA services and membership as the roster swelled from 150 to over 1,300. Much of the credit for this growth must go to the creative thinking and continuous effort of Mike Milliman.

In 1968, the start of Phase III of the ASCA evolution, came President John Spannuth of the Phillips 66 Splash Club. His Secretary/Treasurer was water polo-oriented Chuck Hines of the Des Moines YMCA. It was under Spannuth’s leadership that ASCA came into its own. His greatest achievement was the formation of the ASCA World Clinic as a combination annual meeting and coaches clinic. Until then the ASCA Clinic had always been held as the side show to some other organization’s main attraction.

The first World Clinic was held on Thanksgiving weekend in 1969 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. Four hundred coaches registered for the three days of comprehensive lectures which were given by coaches and professionals in the fields of motivation, stress and other psychological and physiological aspects of competition.

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