Bill Bachrach

ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee: Pre-2003

University of Iowa

  • Head coach of the 1924 Olympics and 1928 Olympics. US men’s and women’s swim teams.
  • Coached the Illinois Athletic Club.
  • His swimmers and divers won every Men’s National AAU Championship event in 1914
  • His swimmers won 120 National AAU championships
  • Coach of the great Johnny Weismuller.
  • Inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1996.

Starting out as a swimming instructor at the Chicago Central YMCA, William Bachrach later moved to the Illinois Athletic Club (IAC) and reigned there as coach of swimming and water polo from 1912 to 1954. His 1914 to 1917 IAC water polo teams captured the US national championships for four consecutive years. Bachrach was head coach of the 1924 and 1928 United States Olympic Teams. His swimmers captured 13 gold medals in Paris in 1924 and 10 gold medals at the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928.

Bachrach developed four swimmers who won gold medals at the 1924 Games: Johnny Weissmuller (100 and 200 Freestyles, and 800-Meter Relay), Bob Skelton (200 Breaststroke), Ethel Lackie (100 Freestyle and 400 Relay), and Sybil Bauer (100-Meter Backstroke). Weissmuller also won a pair of gold medals at the 1928 Olympics, in 100 Freestyle and 800 Relay. Other champions developed by Bachrach are American champion Mike McDermott and Olympic star Norman Ross, Sr., winner of gold medals in the 400 and 1,500 Freestyles and 800 Relay at the 1920 Games in Antwerp.

Following the 1928 Olympics, Bachrach took Weissmuller to Japan to compete. After learning that the Japanese were planning to increase their chances by using very cold water, Bachrach had Weissmuller sit in a tub filled with ice water until he was accustomed to the temperature, and Johnny won every event at the competition.

He passed away in July of 1959, at 80 years old.

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