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



John Tallman from the University of Washington inherited the unenviable task of carrying on Spannuth’s programs. He solicited the aid of the Gaughran brothers, Jim and Bob, to hold the ASCA World Clinic in Palo Alto just before the San Francisco AAU Convention. The top coaches and physical educators from the West Coast carried the speakers’ duties before an audience of almost 600.

Tallman’s reign was most noted for its financial success as he generated nearly $14,000 for his successors. He also proposed the development of a paid position for an “Executive Secretary.” The Board of Directors approached several people to take on the duties, but no one was willing to assume the job until the following year. The first choice, Charles McCaffree, declined after prolonged deliberation, and Tallman ended up serving as both President and acting Secretary/Treasurer.

Phase IV started in 1971 when ASCA moved its headquarters to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Buck Dawson, Director of the Hall, proposed that ASCA make a $5,000.00 contribution to the Hall of Fame; and in return, he and his staff, which included Alice Kempthorne, would serve as Secretary/Treasurer and assume the administrative duties. The ASCA Board accepted the arrangement and Buck Dawson assumed the title of “Executive Secretary.”

An all-Florida panel of coaches was selected to back up Dawson. Bob Ousley, whose Fort Lauderdale Swimming Association trained at the Hall of Fame Pool, was elected President. Buddy Baarcke of North Palm Beach was Vice President, and Jack Nelson of the Jack Nelson Swim Club was voted Secretary/Treasurer. That administration put ASCA on a solid foundation at a permanent address with regular office hours. Buddy Baarcke designed the ASCA box logo which is still in use today.

Under President Ousley the organization projected itself beyond professional services, taking on an aggressive role in influencing swimming policy. Ousley advanced the notion that a strong voice in the governance of swimming is a necessary obligation for the world’s number one swimming coaches association.

This greater political involvement led ASCA to begin actively informing AAU delegates on various issues and influencing the outcome of votes on major issues. As one example, ASCA led the legislation, originated by Buddy Baarcke, Jack Nelson and Jay Markley, which changed the National Junior Olympics from an age group division format to a senior format. ASCA also sponsored the 1972 “Hershey Meet” which provided those swimmers who did not make the Olympic team with a summer championship. Until then, the summer nationals were never held during Olympic years. Although the meet was a $1,250.00 financial loss to ASCA, it induced the installment of a summer nationals following the Olympic Games by 1976.

At the ASCA Board of Director’s meeting held during the 1972 ASCA World Clinic in Montreal, Buck Dawson advised the Board that he wished to step down from his position. He further recommended that the office remain in the Hall of Fame and that the Board employ Bob Ousley as its Executive Director. The motion was made and passed. Bob was hired for $3,600.00.

That hiring in 1972 started Phase V. During this phase, attendance at the World Clinic reached over 1,000 and the membership reached over 2,000. The first World Clinic Yearbook, a composite of talks from the 1969 to 1973 World Clinics, was published in 1973.

The employment of Bob Ousley marked a period of slow, steady growth for the ASCA that culminated with a remarkable event at the Las Vegas World Clinic in 1983, where a proposal was brought forward by several members of the ASCA Board to “combine” with United States Swimming and move ASCA Headquarters to Colorado Springs. A debate was held at the Annual ASCA Business Meeting, and President Don Gambril acted as moderator in a “point/counterpoint” discussion of the merits of the proposal. Three Board Members spoke for the proposal, and three against. Then they heard from the coaches on the floor. The meeting, previewed for months in the ASCA newsletter, had the best ever attendance. Luminaries in the coaching world such as Doc Counsilman, George Haines, “”, SMU Coach George McMillion and many others spoke in vociferous opposition to the move, citing the dangers of loss of independence from the National Governing Body, and spoke of the need for ASCA as a counterbalance to the layperson-dominated National Governing Body. When the mood of the audience was clearly anti-combination, Coach Don Gambril recommended that nothing more than further study be done at this time. Coach George McMillion made a motion to “Forbid even further discussion of this item. It should be put to bed once and for all. We don’t want the Board even spending time on it again.” George insisted on a straw ballot on his motion, and it was taken. The vote was 1,006 to 3 in favor of Coach McMillion’s motion to kill further discussion. The strength and importance of an independent American Swimming Coaches Association was established. No further talk of combination with USS has ever been broached. Coach Ousley’s retirement in 1984 brought Phase V to the end. He left a strong and independent ASCA organization in his wake.

In 1984 the Board sought new leadership and found Dr. Keith Sutton, a doctoral candidate at New Mexico with a coaching background and academic strengths in research and marketing, and he was hired as the new ASCA Executive Director. Bob Ousley worked part time to help bring Keith up to speed, and ASCA employee Anne Bloese also played her part in helping with the transition. Keith got a great number of projects started, and one that quickly came to fruition was THE JOURNAL OF SWIMMING RESEARCH, the only academically refereed journal in the world devoted entirely to competitive swimming. Keith’s wife, Mary Sutton, was also a key player in bringing THE JOURNAL to life.

THE JOURNAL was born as a quarterly and immediately attracted a distinguished editorial board, with every major swimming scientist in the USA and several worldwide figures on the Editorial Board. Tragically, one day in August of 1984, Keith suffered a fatal heart stoppage and died at his desk in the ASCA office. He was 36 years old. The 1984 World Clinic in Chicago was conducted in a sort of trance, with many tearful moments reflecting on what Keith’s death meant to his family and to the swimming world at large, as well as the loss to the Association. Filled with vigor, enthusiasm and an academic expertise that promised many exciting new ASCA projects, Keith was a shining light for the ASCA that was extinguished much too early.

In the fall of 1984, the ASCA once again accepted applications for a new Executive Director. Coach Jack Simon chaired the Search Committee, which also included Dick Hannula, Mark Schubert and Skip Kenney. The committee accepted applications for three months, then interviewed four final candidates in Colorado Springs in December and selected Coach John Leonard of Lake Forest, Illinois, as the new Director. John’s background included the US Army, a physical education degree, a seven-year club coaching career in Syracuse, NY, and a seven-year club coaching career in Lake Forest. He had also coached at the High School, Prep School, NCAA Division III and NCAA Division I level during that coaching career. He began his career at ASCA in January of 1985. This marked the start of “Phase VI” in ASCA history – our current era.

The following is a series of landmarks in this Phase VI ASCA history:


  • ASCA Coaches Certification Program developed and accepted by membership. Coach Walt Schlueter (who proposed the concept in 1958 letter) becomes Certified Coach Number 0001.


  • ASCA Magazine added to ASCA Newsletter as a membership benefit.
  • ASCA Job Service begins.
  • ASCA Staff grows to include Certification Coordinator and Age Group Program Coordinator.


  • ASCA Motivational Times added to benefits.
  • SwimAmerica Learn to Swim Program is researched and begun with 7 initial programs.
  • Certification tops 1,000 coaches.
  • ASCA Membership tops 2,500 coaches.


  • Membership tops 3,000 coaches.
  • SwimAmerica has 50 programs in place.
  • ASCA develops Position Evaluation for Head Coaching Jobs. Publishes “How to Hire the Best Swim Coach.”
  • First Compensation Survey for Certified Coaches.
  • Schlueter Stroke Awards for Age Group Swimmers.

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