Coach Frank Elm

Frank Elm
Frank Elm

2004 ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee

Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving Head Coach, Rutger’s University

Frank Elm was the head coach of Rutgers University Swimming and Diving program from 1961 to 1993. During his 32 years at Rutgers, Frank Elm had to work with poor facilities and no scholarships, while he still produced teams that won Eastern Team titles and individual championships.

Many of Frank’s club home grown swimmers went on to other colleges and won NCAA titles and placed in NCAA championships for their colleges. Elm came to Rutgers as a successful AAU Coach, New Jersey Interscholastic Champion, All-American from Indiana University and a swimmer-coach in the Marine Corps. His Rutgers team won 39 dual meets in a row, Summit Y Men’s team won 68 meets in a row, Summit Y Girls team won 70 meets in a row (never losing a dual meet), and another club Frank Elm had coached in the 1950’s won 60 meets in a row and never lost while he was coaching. Frank Elm served on several National Committees and was selected as a Loyal Son of Rutgers in April of 1992.

Underneath Coach Elm guidance, the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers from 1961 to 1972 stamped 11-straight winning seasons, with an overall 79-42 record. In 1965, the creation of the Eastern Seaboard Championships brought Rutgers University to a new level, with swimmers such as Bill Clark (’63), Larry Jones, John Wasylyk (’64), Don Galluzzi, Marty Flickenger (’65), and diver Roy Nicholas (’64 – Eastern Champion and NCAA top-eight finisher) as the top performers. In 1968, Frank Elm coached the Scarlet Knights to 4th place at the Eastern Championships with six top performances from Bob Chenaux (’66) in the 1650, David Feigley (’66) in diving; Sprinters and All-Americans Bruce Ball (’67), Dick Woodrow (’66), and Peter Hibbard (’67), earning the Eastern Champion title in diving. The Scarlet Knights went on to have success at the Eastern Championship with John Hannan (`68) placing in the 1650, 500, and 200 fly; along with teammates Jim Rose (’67), Elliot Cheneaux (’68), Jim Parkinson (’70) Jose Ferraioli (’69), Dave Helming (’71), and divers Peter Leitner (’70) and Ted Doeing (’72) contributing to the team’s efforts. Later on, the Cheneaux brothers and Ferraioli went on to represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics. In the late 60’s, Gregg Anderson (’70) was the leading point-scorer for Rutgers University, named All American in both 1968 and 1969 in the 200 backstroke, and won three Eastern Championships while qualifying to compete in the NCAA’s.

The 1970’s at Rutgers were best known for the inclusion of the women into the RU program. Olympic swimmer Judy Mellick (’77) became the first female members of the Rutgers team and the first woman to compete with men. She was one of the pioneers as a newly-coed RU transformed into a successful women’s athletic program. The Rutgers women’s swimming program blasted onto the scene under Frank Elm with three consecutive undefeated season (1975-77), with a fierce dominance at the Eastern Championships. The women’s team went on to be the only Eastern team to place in the top ten at the 1977 Nationals. Frank Elm coached fifteen swimmers on to earn All-American recognition and many to be come stars of their era (Judy Mellick, Ellen Wallace, Debbie Franks, Maureen Mortell, Robin Locklair, etc.) Ellen Wallace went on to represent the USA at the Pan-Am Championships. Frank Elm finished the women’s program in the 1970’s with a 70-20 win/loss record.

Frank Elm described the 80’s when he retired in 1993 as:
“There have been so many highs and lows over the years. The lows were not winning too much, especially during the 80’s when basically we had no scholarship help and our pool was antiquated. We couldn’t attract anybody, so it was really difficult to hang in there and keep going,” (Star Ledger, April 30, 1993).

Along with school records being broken in the 1980’s, the long-awaited news that a new facility would be built finally came to light in 1989 helping Coach Elm with recruiting. Coach Elm lead the efforts to construct the “state of the art” swimming facility, which is part of the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on the Busch Campus. The facility was completed in 1991, where Coach Elm enjoyed two seasons in the new facility before retiring. Through the rebuilding efforts, Coach Elm recruited Jeff Farschon, Larry page, and Tim Berlin. Atlantic 10 Champions and school record holders, Jeff Farschon and Larry Page were named Swimmers of the Year in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Swimmers coached that made the Olympic Team:


  • Ginny Duenkel – Gold Medal, Bronze 100 Back
  • Sue Pitt – Alternate, Medley Relay
  • Phil Riker – Fourth in 200 Fly


  • Sue Pitt – Alternate 100, 200 Fly
  • Steve Rerych – Gold Medal 800 Relay, Finaled in 200 Free
  • 1972:

  • Judy Melick – 5th in 100 Breast
  • 1976:

  • Kathy Heddy – 4th in 400 Free
  • Swimmers coached that made Pan American Team:

    • Ginny Duenkel – Gold Medal (1976)
    • Kathy Heddy – 4 Gold Medals (1975)
    • Ellen Wallace – Finals (1975)

    Swimmers coached on World Championship Team:

    • Kathy Heddy – Finaled in 200 IM, 100 Free (1973)
    • Ellen Wallace – Finaled in 200 Back (1975)

    World Records held by swimmers that Frank Elm coached:

    • Genny Duenkel – 200 Meter Backstroke
    • Sue Pitt – 220 yards Butterfly
    • 800 Meter Free Relay – Club Team

    National Championships:

    Club team placed second in team standing two or three times, placed in the top five at Nationals many times. Frank’s swimmers won many individual National Championships and Relay Championships, Also, Frank’s swimmers set several American records individually and for relays, here is a list of some of them:

    • Ginny Duenkel – 100, 200 Back – American Record. Won several National titles, set American and World records, Gold Medal 1964 Olympic, Bronze in 100 Back, Gold in 1963 Pan Ams.
    • Sue Pitt – Won several National Championships. Set American and World record in Butterfly events. Made two Olympic teams and several National teams.
    • Kathy Heddy – Won several National Championships, set American and National records in 100, 200 Free and 200 IM Won 4 Golds in 1975 Pan Am Games. Was 4th in 400 Free in 1976 Olympics. Was first woman to break 51.0 in 100 yard Freestyle. First woman to break 1:51.0 in 200 Free. Also, made two World Championship teams.
    • Ellen Wallace – Pan Am team 1975, World Championship team 1975, made several National teams. Just missed the 1976 Olympic team by one place, Finaled in National many times in several events. Was ranked in top three in World in 200 Back.
    • Phil Riker – NCAA Champion. Made 1964 Olympic Team. Placed 4th in 200 Fly and finaled in Nationals several times.
    • Steve Rerych – Gold Medal in Relay 1968 Olympics. Finaled in Nationals several times.
    • Judy Melick – Made 1972 Olympic Team. Placed 5th in 100 Breast. Placed in Nationals.

    Over his career, Frank Elm had many swimmers who made finals in Nationals – there are too many to list.