Coach Red Barr

Red Barr

ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee: Pre-2003

Southern Methodist University

  • Graduated from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, 1930 – AB Degree.
  • Received MA from New York University in 1937.
  • Taught Physical Education and coached at Connelsville High School, Connelsville, Pennsylvania, 12 years.
  • Entered US v-5 Naval Program in November, 1942. Served until Feb. 1, 1946 and remained in Naval reserve until 1963.
  • First team at SMU was in the 1946-47 season.
  • Captured first conference championship (Southwest Conference) in 1953.
  • US Swim Team Coach for Pan-Am Games in Brazil, 1963.
  • Alternate Men’s Swim Coach for US Olympic Team in 1968.
  • President of AAU Men’s Committee, 1969-70 and Red Barr 1970-71.
  • Presented the Big D Award of the All-Sports Association of Dallas in 1971.
  • Professor of Physical Education at SMU in addition to his coaching duties.
  • Inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
  • Western Australia institute of Sport, from April 2014.

In his 25 years as swimming coach at Southern Methodist Univeristy (1946-1971), Coach Alfred “Red” Barr’s teams won 17 conference titles, including 15 in a row. No other Southwest Conference coach had ever won as many consecutive championships. All-American honors were awarded to 50 of his swimmers and divers who helped SMU finish in the NCAA Top 10 eight times in Barr’s last nine years as coach. He also was responsible for the US men’s swimming teams victory at the 1963 Pan Am games. During Barr’s coaching career, he served as chairman of the Amateur Athletic Union swimming rules committee, on the swimming committee of the Pan American Games, and president of the Southwestern Amateur Athletic Union. Later, SMU named its Olympic-sized pool for Barr as a memorial to his tireless work as SMU’s greatest swimming coach.

Born in the small community of Avon, Ohio, Barr graduated from the local high school in 1926 as valedictorian of his class. Four years later in 1930, Barr graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. At Oberlin, Barr did not participate in swimming, but earned letters in both basketball and baseball. After coaching in high school and serving in the US Navy, Barr returned home in the spring of 1946 and married Miss Helen Paula M Cleaver of Philadelphia, whom he had met during his time in the Navy.

Barr died of a heart attack in El Paso on June 12, 1971, while coaching a Dallas team in the AAU swimming meet. He was survived by his wife, Polly, and four children Roberta, Bill, Alan, and Betty.