Coach Bob Gillett

Bob Gillett
Bob Gillett
Bob Gillett

Addendum: 2009-2010

In 2009-2010, one of Bob’s swimmers, Cindy Tran broke Natalie Coughlin’s National 15-16 Age Group Record in the 100 Backstroke (SCY) with a 52.5, at the Long Beach Grand Prix Meet. In the spring of 2010, Cindy broke the National High School Record in the 100 Backstroke, becoming the first high school swimmer to break 52 seconds, with a 51.8. The swims were done with outstanding starts and turns using extended underwater breakouts.

In 2010, Bob’s development of the Foil monofin was first manufactured and marketed. The mono fin was designed as a “teaching” fine with appropriate size, shape, flexibility and material safety for all levels of competitive swimmers. The worldwide manufacturing and marketing rights have been transferred to Finis, a major supplier of competitive swimming products.

In 2010, the first prototypes of Bob’s Sprint Trainer were developed. The Sprint Trainer is an integrated system that uses computer technology to control an automated multi-swimmer sprint station for workouts. It provides a quality horn start staging sequence, touch pad finishes, immediate and accurate time feedback and recordkeeping for each swimmer doing multiple repeats on variable intervals and distances. The marketing of the system will begin in early 2011.

In 2010, Bob successful organized and implemented an, all expenses paid, NCSA Junior National All-Star Trip to the Irish National Championships in April. The USA NCSA team was composed of 26 female and 26 male swimmers and 8 coaches, which were selected from the results of the 2010 NCSA Jr. National Championships in Orlando, FL, during March. The trip was a great success for NCSA, swimmers and coaches.

For 2011, Bob has preliminary agreements for a NCSA Junior National All-Start Trip to Japan. The team will be composed of 26 females, 26 males and 8 coaches. There will be a unique selection method, which will be to develop a pool of 16 swimmers for each event, off of the results of the NCSA Jr. National Championships in Orlando, FL, during March, 2011—a Short Course Yards Meet. Then at the USA Jr. Nationals and USA National Championships in August, the final team will be selected from only the 16 swimmers in each event pool from the NCSA Jr. National Championships held in March. Both of these August meets are Long Course Meters. This will give extra meaning to the Spring and Summer training for these young elite swimmers! The meet in Japan during September, 2011, will be Long Course.

Addendum: 2010-2011

In 2010-2011, Cindy Tran, while a freshman at CAL Berkeley, won the NCAA 100 Backstroke, seasons best time of 51.22. Other top performances: additional college swimmers, who developed under Bob, that had outstanding years were Cythia Fascella, UCLA; Katherine Raatz, CAL Berkeley; and Yasi Jahanshahi, UCLA. Some of the better performance from the under 18 swimmers included:

Kelsey Cummings 4:47 and 1:48
Shelby Weber 23, 49, 1:49 and 2:00 in the 200 IM
Alli Gillespie 51 and 1:51
Nick Soedal 20.19 and 44.76
Dari Watkins 1:03 LC Fly
Taylor Johnson 23
Kylie Boyce 2:17 in 200 Breast

Bob retired from full-time deck coaching on May 31, 2011.

The Foil monofin manufacturing and marketing was sold to FINIS for continuing royalties. Clinics were given in the US, Australia and for Great Britain’s National Team Camp on Cypress.

Bob completed his final obligations with NCSA by following though on the NCSA All-American Team Trip to Osaka, Japan, in September, 2011. This included the selection process for 52 Swimmers and 8 Coaches, and management of the trip: including, securing the airline tickets, collecting and organizing all of the swimmers’ and coaches’ data (from release, medical, code of conduct, personal data, uniform sizing, travel schedules, meet entries), holding GoToMeeting Coaches Meetings with the head coaches, women’s coaches staff, men’s coaching staff, and combined online meetings during the preparation weeks after selection, arrangement for Misty Hyman to accompany the team and provide a clinic on underwater kick at the Osaka Swim Stadium, selection of host gifts for the CEO and Head Coach of Itoman Swim School, the Osaka Swimming Federation, and Japanese Swimming Federation. The trip week long trip included two days of competition and a follow though cultural tour day to several historical sites in Kyoto, Japan. There were not expenses for the swimmers to cover, except for the flight cost to the gateway airport, LAX.

Addendum: 2011-2012

After Bob Gillett retired from the deck and full-time coaching on May 31, 2011, he continued to do light work on his swimming projects, did some traveling and a few “Underwater Kicking and Mono Fin Clinics.” After about six months, he decided he wanted to increase his role as an “activity semi-retired coach” within the sport of swimming. Bob joined the “Master Coaches Program” as an independent consulted for USA Swimming.

His new functional role was to make short visits to some of the most deserving clubs and coaches in the USA, who were producing top level Jr. Elite swimmers who were in the world swimming rankings. Bob approached each coach and club that he visited with the idea of trying to contribute to the “skill sets” of the coaching process. Some of the example topics that he offered were: underwater kicking, race evaluation, on deck video use, computer assisted sprint training, and methods of coaching, status profiling, flex-lane bulkheads and other coaching related topics. 2012 also brought on additional “Underwater Kicking and Mono Fin Clinics, in both the USA and Europe.

Bob continues to follow his swimmers that were swimming in universities across the country. The most success full was Cindy Tran, with her great underwater kicking skills. Cindy defended her 2011 NCAA Championship in the 100 Backstroke by capturing the 2012 Title, and lead CAL Berkeley to the 400 and 200 Y Medley Relay Championships (with best times of 50.31 and 23.34)—one of Bob all-time favorite swimmers, Katherine Raatz, the freestyler on that relay team!


A Professional Summary Narrative

Prepared for the 2009 American Swimming Coaches Association
Hall of Fame Induction

Performance Summary

As a developmental coach, Bob Gillett has coached a huge number of swimmers over a long career, which spans five decades. His swimmers have achieved local, state, regional, sectional, Jr. National, National, Olympic, American, and World Records. His swimmers have achieved High School All-American and NCAA Division I All-American honors. Bob’s swimmers have won 11 National Championships and over 50 Jr. National Championships; involving more than 20 different swimmers. At one time in his career, his swimmers held approximately one third of his home state of Arizona’s State Age Group and Senior Records. His teams have placed in the top ten at NCAA Division I, Jr. National and Sr. Nationals. His teams have won two Jr. National Championships.

Over the years, AFOX had many great swimmers. Most notable was Misty Hyman, who developed at ASR from a little age group swimmer, and won multiple National Championships in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Misty swam one of the greatest USA Olympic swims in history when she upset Susie O’Neil of Australia to become the 2000 Olympic Champion in the 200 Butterfly with the current American Record. In 2006, Bob was honored by a vote of the coaches at Jr. Nationals as the NCSA Coach of the Year, after his swimmers won 8 individual events and one relay, and placed four different swimmers in the top 8 of the distance freestyle.

CAREPAK — Computer Assisted Race Evaluation Package

Bob has been known as an innovative swimming coach. He built a mechanical “wheel calculator” in 1965 to show swimmers the relationship between cycle count and tempo, and swimming times. In the early 1970’s, using a teletype input device into a main frame computer, he develop a program to show “simulated race analysis.” Finally, when micro-computers became available, Bob developed a timing program, data collection, and data base system called CAREPAK, “Computer Assisted Race Evaluation Package.” In the fall of 1978, Bob brought the first micro-computer on to the deck of the pool. He presented the system in a talk at the newly formed Colorado Springs, Olympic Training Center, before 50 coaches of an Elite Coaches Seminar. “Computer Assisted Race Evaluation—CAREPAK” had become a reality. In the early 1980’s CAREPAK was ported to one of the first “portable lap top” computers. It was also ported into one of first true hand held computers, the HP 41. Bob presented and shared these systems at the ASCA Convention in 1982. “Early on we saw the potential for computers in evaluating races, it meet the criteria for computer applications just perfectly. It is something you do over and over again, it requires great accuracy, and it has to be done very fast. That first little 6K micro-computer cost me $4400, but it was a great match-up.” Computer assisted race evaluation become one of the core projects and services of USA Swimming in the l990s.

Bob has continued to promote the coaching skill of Race Evaluation with his fellow coaches. In 2005 he developed a “continuing and evolving” race evaluation program that runs on Pocket PCs with Mobil Windows called “The Best Damn Stopwatch Period.” He has provided it free to coaches at

Arizona Sport Ranch Training Center

The concept of Arizona Sports Ranch as a training center was developed as a physical education student in the 1960’s. The stated objective was to provide a place where athletes, outstanding coaching, peer group, competition and facilities that had a priority use for competitive swimming all would come together. Bob and his wife, Kathy, followed up with the soft development side and financing of the project during some tough years in the 1970’s. ASR became functional in 1982. It served as a swim training facility for AFOX with a 25 yard pool and a 50 meter X 25 yard pool. Over the years it hosted many high school seasonal programs, and taught thousands of children in swimming lessons. ASR also included tennis courts, sports fields, inline hockey and basketball courts, sand volleyball center, activity center and the Ranch House. For over 20 years ASR was host to twelve weeks of Summer Sports Day Camp each summer for up to 250 kids per day in a multi-sports program. It is estimated that over fifteen thousand Phoenix youngsters participated in sports at ASR over the years.

The 8000 square foot Ranch House, with its suite type dorm units, was home to the ASR Swim Camp, a residency swim camp for 8 weeks each summer. ASR also hosted many college and club teams from around the world for “training camps” over holidays and special training periods. Some of the top USA swimmers that came to ASR for swim camps as young developing swimmers were: Garrett Weber-Gale, Emily Silver, Pam Hanson, Helen Silver, Daniel DiToro, Jessica Hardy and Lacey Nymeyer. One of the innovative camp projects of ASR was the development in the early 1990s of the “individual instructional video” that was made for each camper. This involved the early application of graphic overlays, and voice over, with slow motion and stop action, underwater and above water for each individualized video. Bob has made over an estimate 2,500 videos over the years. These technology applications were also used in video stroke presentations to develop a starting “conceptional model” for each stroke.

NCSA — National Club Swimming Association

Bob was the founding President of NCSA (National Club Swimming Association) in 2001. The organization led the effort to bring back the Junior National Championships in this country. After USA Swimming dropped Jr. Nationals in 1999, many of the club coaches felt that they had lost a major part of their system to develop elite swimmers, 18 and under. NCSA sponsored Jr. National Championships in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. USA Swimming has now taken back over the Summer Long Course Junior Nationals and added a Short Course Jr. Nationals in December. NCSA still sponsors a much needed Spring NCSA Jr. National Championship, which is held as a combination Short Course/Long Course Championship.

Although much of the early activity of NCSA was centered on a the ever big and real problem of the Jr. Nationals, NCSA was conceived as a club coaches association that would work on problem solving through the project method of organization and participation. One of the major projects of NCSA is to see that ever Jr. Nationals Championships is an important, prestigious “meet of consequence” for the swimmers, coaches and programs. This is to be accomplished by making each meet a “selection meet.” This project has lead Bob to two of his proudest and most fulfilling achievements in swimming. In 2003, a team was selected from the 2004 Summer Long Course NCSA Jr. National Championships at The Woodlands in Texas. A team of over 50 coaches and athletes competed later that year in December as a team in Paul Bergen’s Jr. International Championships in Tualatin Hills, OR. The trip was a huge success of this NCSA program project. In the spring of 2007, two NCSA All-American Teams (East vs. West) were selected off the results of the 2007 NCSA Jr. National Championships in Orlando. In early June, the teams consisting of over 90 swimmers, coaches and officials traveled to a week of training, activities, and the NCSA All-American Meet on Oahu, Hawaii. The trip cost NCSA $100,000 that it had accumulated since 2002 and it was a huge project success.

Additional projects are in the works for NCSA in the future; including the development of a low cost 50 meter pool. As the former President, Bob is still a member of the Board of Directors of the NCSA.

Underwater Kicking

While Bob did not invent “extended breakouts” in the modern era (David Berkhoff and Joe Bernal, at Harvard, should have that honor), he did make the initial applications in the modern butterfly era. With Misty Hyman as his swimmer, extended breakouts were brought to the swimming scene in the spring of 2003, when Misty won Jr. Nationals in the 100 Yard Butterfly. At that time the practice was to dive (or push off) and do two kicks into the full stroke. Misty was taking as many as 27 underwater kicks on the start length in long course and won her first USA National Championship in the spring of 1994. In the March, 1995, Bob read an article in Scientific American Magazine, “Robo Tuna,” that featured the study of fish movements. After several months of rationalization and study, Bob decided to move the vertical foil movement of dolphin kick to the horizontal movement that he termed “fish kick.” After conducting an in the water blue dye “action study” with Misty and countless hours of trail and error practice, and confirming communications with the fish scientists research that the interpretation and application of their research was valid, the commitment was made in November to use fish kick in competition after Misty returned from the Short Course World Championships in Brazil.

Officials were consulted to make sure she would not be disqualified for not being on her front in butterfly, because she would not go past the vertical. Misty swan her first races with extended breakouts on fish kick at a Grand Prix Meet at Federal Way, WA, in January of 1996.

Bob was the first coach to offer explanation on why underwater kicking was faster than swimming on top of the water for many swimmers on starts and breakouts, by relating kick and stroke tempo to kick and stroke distance per kick/stroke. This relationship has great significance to the coaching techniques on starts and turns.

Internship Program

Bob has run a formal coaching internship program for young coaches during the past three decades. The intern coaches, who most often come just after graduate from college, have been a focus of pride for Bob over the years. The coaches agree to stay for 1 to 2 years. The program is best described by the Internship Notice that Bob places on the American Swimming Coaches Associations Job Placement Website, which has been most effective over the years in identifying great candidates:

“This is a great learning experience in all areas of coaching and club management. Duties will include experiences in all phases of the art, science, and business of coaching; including daily deck coaching, meets, event staging, sports information and advertising, facility maintenance and development, camps, club and training center operations, transportation and travel, fund raising, motivational systems development and implementation, video and computer utilization, heart rate monitoring, computer assisted race evaluation, office duties; etc. You will really learn about your profession and acquire some great coaching skills!”

Heart Rate Monitors

Bob has worked in the area of heart rate monitoring during workouts over the years. Misty Hyman used heart rate monitoring on a continuous bases from the time she was fourteen years old until she left for college. Her and many of her other teammates at ASR used Polar technology to record and graph heart rates on a daily bases. Workout were overlaid on the print out graphs to evaluate total workload, intensity, current stress level and if the sets were being done properly and achieving their goals. Heart rate monitoring was used extensively in taper and peak season control, in correlation to yardage and intensity reduction.

In the early 1980’s Bob convinced and worked with a large biomedical company, Medtronics, to develop technology for a group heart rate monitor. The first step was to develop an individual medical quality monitor in a machined watch case; much like the later technology that developed. These were taken and show to USA Swimming at the Olympic Training Center and there was no enthusiasm or supporting encouragement for the program. After months of work in their Tempe, AZ, facilities and over $100,000 of R & D by Medtronics, it was determine that the technology of the times was not advanced enough to have a high probability for the financial success of the project, so the project was dropped.

Over the years, Bob has tried to push for a group heart rate monitoring system that would function in real time for at least 30 swimmers. “Group Heart Rate Monitoring is our MOON SHOT technology in swimming. I am convinced it is the single most important technology project that we should adopt and embrace for swimming in the United States!”

Remote Site Coaching

Bob also has been a developer of “Remote Site Coaching” first using POP (Plain Old Phone) technology in the mid 1990’s and now, with the increase in bandwidth, the internet. “The technology is opening up a whole new area of virtual coaching and it is here today. We can coach from anywhere in the world, as long as we have a browser online. In the fall of 2005, I ran a week of AFOX practices in Arizona, while visiting my daughter in North Caroline. It is going to open up the way for many who have been unable to obtain coaching in less populated areas. It is going to bring a new era in obtaining expert coaching assistance and shared coaching for all programs.” It has an important future in a number of areas of our sport: administration and coaches’ training are two additional areas that have a great match-up with this technology.

Flex-Lane Bulkheads

In about 1986, Bob started using an invention he called Flex-Lane Bulkheads. The basic system involved placing a three foot by 8 foot piece of plywood vertically between two lane lines. The plywood is edge routered, holes placed in each corner, and painted blue with a black center strip. The bulkhead is held in place with anchor ropes at the top, attached to the lane lines; and then four ropes going from the bottom of the bulkhead to the lane lines, about six feet in each direction.

Flex-Lane Bulkheads have been used by many swimming club programs around the world to increase pool functionality and provide new modes of training; specifically controlling distance as one of the variables in interval training. Many swim programs have benefited greatly from this invention.

Video Teaching Tools

From his early years of coaching, Bob believed that “visual learning” should have a huge place in the coaching process. In the 1960s he purchased the Doc Councilman 8mm films. He edited the films into stroke specialty runs and had them placed in a new device of the times, plastic loop cartridges. These cartridges were shown to the swimmers in a portable 8mm viewer on deck. He also developed an underwater film station with plastic milk cartoon liner, swim masks, erector set parts, 8mm camera, and a snorkel. In the 1970s the technology advanced greatly with the first shoulder size, portable video deck and camera. In the 1980s the technology advanced to cam recorders. Bob develop handheld underwater camera housings for these cameras. As technology advanced with digital storage, Bob took advantage of the technology to bring the visual learning systems to new highs with the high volume techniques for individual instruction vidoes and on deck feedback for the swimmers, specifically “time shift” video using digital video recorders.

One of the innovative camp projects of ASR was the development in the early 1990s of the “individual instructional video” that was made for each camper. This involved the early application of graphic overlays, and voice over, with slow motion and stop action, underwater and above water for each individualized video. It involved developing practical application of technology to develop a quality teaching tool for young swimmers, with a mass production output to have a significant impact. Bob has made more than 2,500 videos over the years. These technology applications were also used in video stroke presentations to develop a starting “conceptional model” for each stroke for developing swimmers. These individualized videos were designed to be used by the swimmers as a “teaching tool” over the next year. Swimmers were to watch, on a regular bases, short parts of the instruction and selecting three or four focus points to spotlight in their practice session that day. Short sections of the video were to be rotated throughout the year.

Pool Construction and Operational Costs

Bob has done considerable work on low cost construction for swimming pools. He has developed pools with low cost by designing features and using materials and equipment that match the specific needs of competitive swimming programs. Bob has been a proponent of specialized and dedicated pool designs for competitive swimming, and has not agreed to the concept that all swimming pools should be required to meet public, general use pool design features and operational demands, which escalate the cost of facilities out of feasibility for competitive programs. “Public pool construction has become so costly that it is not possible to do it without being at the public tax trough! The answer is in special use exemptions and variances for construction and operation.”

Some of the specific and successful applications that Bob worked on were surfacing materials, heater typing and sizing, motor and pump sizing, pool cover types and scheduling of use, low cost air domes, and solar panel application. For example, at Arizona Sports Ranch, the small multi-purpose pool was costing about $3000 per month to heat during the Arizona winter months with covers. This was reduced by adding a solar system and low cost air dome to about $500 per month. “We had a low cost solar system that could direct heated water into the competitive pool or the multi-purpose pool, or split it between the two pools. The controls for the whole system were six, two inch values; and it saved tens of thousands of dollars over its twenty year life on the project.”