2017 ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee
Wilmington Aquatic Club
– Robert E Mattson born in April of 1930 in Worcester, MA
– Grew up in single parent home on welfare / never met his father
– At age 10 found the local Boys Club and was introduced to swimming
– At age 13 showed promise and started prep school
– Willis Casey took notice and gave him a scholarship to NCSU where be became an NCAA Champion – the first in any sport at NCSU
– Won AAU individual and team championships under Casey and posted a World Best 400IM in mid 1950’s
– Graduated with honors – 2nd in his class – with a textile chemistry degree
– Took a job in Wilmington, DE working for the Joseph Bancroft Company. Served as the lead member of the team that developed and produced the Ban-Lon shirt
– After eight years of coaching on the side he left the comfort of a well paying job with plenty of benefits to pursue building his own pool and to coach the Wilmington Aquatic Club (team he founded in 1960)
– Fundraising in a unique fashion (I have the entire plan and will share – incredible to consider really) of signing up families as life members to a facility yet to be built Bob created the Wilmington Swim School that still stands today at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. He later expanded into an incredible health center including a second pool, loads of space for training of all kinds, rehab and was a leader in the holistic health business in the later 1970’s
– Coaching through the years he produced hundreds of swimmers who went on to achieve NCAA All-American status and dozens who scored at the elite levels of both that meet and the AAU/USA Swimming levels
– Athletes included Dave Johnson (1968 Olympian), Jenni Bartz (1968 Olympian), Steve Gregg (1976 Olympian/AAU & NCAA Champ), Jenni Franks (American record holder / 2nd in world to Kornelia Ender during 70’s drug tainted days) and Seth Van Neerden (world scm record holder) among many more we will detail.
– Coaches would regularly come visit Bob to watch him teach his extraordinary weekly mechanics class where he was always exploring new styles of swimming to unlock new speed thresholds – Paul Bergen was one of those I personally remember sitting in the stands while he was a young coach in Philadelphia. He credited Bob with teaching him the style of breaststroke he taught Tracy Caulkins (I believe Paul did this in an ASCA presentation as well several times we discussed it). Jim Ellis was a regular at the Swim School and one of Bob’s great quotes is “All that is not shared is lost”.