EVANSTON, Illinois, June 8. NORTHWESTERN's head men's coach Bob Groseth is stepping down to take over as Interim Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Groseth just finished his 20th season as the head coach of Northwestern, during which he led the Wildcats to five event titles at the NCAA Championships along with 36 Big Ten event titles.
Assistant coach Jarod Schroeder will be promoted to replace Groseth as the head coach of the men's program. Groseth is replacing Phil Whitten as Executive Director of the CSCAA.
Swimming World received an advance copy of Northwestern's press release announcing Groseth's retirement from the University:
After 20 seasons in Evanston during which he transformed Northwestern men's swimming and diving into a legitimate national player, Bob Groseth today announced his retirement as the head coach of the NU program effective Sept. 1, 2009, to become the Interim Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Groseth began his involvement with the CSCAA several years ago, helping save collegiate swimming programs that were threatened with being dropped before later becoming more involved with the administration of the organization. He has served as the President Elect for the past two years.
"As a coach, my job was to push people outside of their ‘comfort zone.' As I approached my 20th year at Northwestern, I started to feel the need to get outside of my comfort zone," Groseth said. "My years here have been great and the school and administration have treated me well. I leave with even more respect for the institution than I had when I started 20 years ago. I have seen a transformation of the Athletic Department and Northwestern Men's Swimming from a perennial doormat to a perennial contender. I take pride in being part of that process and thank the many people who have helped make it happen."
"We are very pleased that Bob is stepping in this direction for the CSCAA," President George Kennedy said. "He is a leader in our sport and is passionate about the issues that college swimming faces today. The entire CSCAA Board welcomes Bob Groseth, and we look forward to his leadership in the next year."
Groseth began his coaching duties at Northwestern in 1989, taking over a team that finished last in the Big Ten in each of the 11 seasons prior to his arrival. During his tenure Groseth built the Wildcats into a contender, finishing in the upper half of the conference in seven-consecutive years from 2001-07, including a third-place effort in 2004. Northwestern also had a five-year stretch from 2004-08 in which it was a top-12 team in the nation in each season, peaking with a modern era-best sixth-place finish in 2007.
"This is certainly a day of very mixed emotions. We are all happy for Bob but sad that we are losing a tremendous coach, teacher and person," NU Director of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips said. "We want to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Coach Groseth for his 20 years of dedicated service to Northwestern athletics. Bob has left an indelible mark at Northwestern with the success of our men's swimming and diving program, and that is a legacy that will remain here forever. We wish Bob the very best of luck as he takes this new step in his career."
Current Northwestern assistant coach Jarod Schroeder will be promoted to head coach of the men's swimming and diving program to replace Groseth, Phillips also announced today (June 8). Schroeder, who trained under Groseth while a competitive swimmer, served as a volunteer assistant coach with the Wildcats from 2000-06 before returning to Evanston as an assistant prior to the 2008-09 season.
In dual-meet terms, Groseth went 116-114 in his 20 years at Northwestern. In 2006-07, the Wildcats were a perfect 8-0 in their dual-meet schedule to complete their first undefeated season in the modern era of the program. In 35 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Groseth compiled a 186-170 dual-meet mark.
Groseth's team broke a 32-year drought without a Big Ten champion from Northwestern when Steve Steketee won the 200 freestyle title in 1998. From that point on, Groseth's Wildcats won 36 event crowns in the next 11 years, including 30 in a five-year span from 2004-08. He has coached every single first-team All-Big Ten performer in program history (an award first given in 1984), with 14 swimmers earning 26 honors under his tutelage.
A three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2002, 2005 and 2007, Groseth led Northwestern to 12 NCAA Championships berths, including nine-straight appearances from 2001-09. In fact, only twice after 1995 have the Wildcats failed to place a swimmer in the NCAA meet.
Northwestern earned 71 All-America honors under Groseth, comprised of 51 individual and 20 relay awards. Groseth was named the NCAA Co-Coach of the Year in 2005.
Bob Groseth coached Matt Grevers (right) to four NCAA titles before Grevers went on to earn two gold medals and a silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Wildcats brought home five national championships for Groseth, beginning in 2005 when Matt Grevers became the first 'Cat in 47 years to earn an NCAA crown with a victory in the 100 backstroke. Grevers repeated in the event in 2006 before capturing 200 backstroke gold in 2007, one of three NU national titles in that year. Mike Alexandrov broke a 10-year-old NCAA record to win the 100 breast while both Grevers and Alexandrov combined with Kyle Bubolz and Bruno Barbic to win the 400 medley relay, also shattering that NCAA mark in the process.
Grevers went on to earn a spot with the U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, earning two gold medals with relays and an individual silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke. Alexandrov also swam in Beijing with his native Bulgaria, marking his second Olympic Games after competing in Athens in 2004. Barbic was an alternate for the Croatian delegation in Beijing.
Groseth has been honored multiple times by his peers for his coaching acumen. He received the Richard E. Steadman Award after the 2001-02 season from the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). He was the recipient of the American Swimming Coaches Association "Bob Ousley" Award for contributions to the sport in 2003 and won the John Newman Award for contributions to Illinois Swimming in 2008.
Groseth began his head coaching career at Fenwick High School from 1967-73, where his teams won seven-straight Catholic League championships and four National Catholic Championships. He then jumped to the collegiate ranks to serve as head coach at Cincinnati (1974-77), Tulane (1977-79) and Iowa State (1979-89) before joining Northwestern for the 1989-90 season.
QUOTES ABOUT COACH GROSETH
Northwestern Women's Assistant Coach, 1988-94
Northwestern Women's Head Coach, 1994-present
"Bob Groseth no doubt has put Northwestern on the map of the swimming elite. When we first started together at NU in 1988 (Bob with his duct taped Cadillac and wind surf boards in tow), we found ourselves with a beautiful new pool right alongside a gorgeous lakefront. While there were outstanding young men here who helped us develop the Wildcat spirit and learn to appreciate the special Northwestern community, there was little talent to compete at a high level in the tough Big Ten.
"Through many years of blood, sweat and lots of tears, NU Men's Swimming returned to a very competitive level not seen since the early 70's. Because of Bob's determination and blue-collar work ethic, the 'Cats very gradually clawed their way up the ladder of success in collegiate and USA Swimming. He leaves us an unbelievable legacy of love of the sport, a daily attitude of ‘bring your lunch pail to work' and a sense of camaraderie among men that will last forever.
"Three cheers for ‘Coach.'"
Jarod Schroeder, Assistant Coach, Northwestern University
Trained with Groseth as a swimmer
"Bob has been a coach, mentor, and friend of mine for over 15 years. He inspired me to become a swimming coach, and it has been an honor to have had the privilege to work with him as his assistant. As a swimmer, my favorite practices were when Bob conducted ‘experiments' on us with various equipment. We didn't know what he was trying to figure out. We just knew we were getting out of a hard practice! He may not know this, but a turning point in my swimming career came about after a conversation I had with him. My first summer training in Evanston, I had slept through a couple of early morning practices. One afternoon he sat me down and told me that every practice session was an opportunity for me to get better. Every time I missed, I locked the door on that opportunity, and I would never get it back. It seems like a simple enough concept, but to a 19-year-old guy who had aspirations of swimming at the highest levels of our sport, it certainly hit home.
"As his assistant, I never knew what to expect day-to-day. We could go into a practice with one idea of what we wanted to do, but after seeing how the guys reacted to the set, we ended up accomplishing something totally different. I believe his ability to adapt the training plan to the situation has been one of the keys to his swimmer's success. It has been great to see him build the program from the time of his arrival at Northwestern. Bob Groseth is Wildcat Men's Swimming."
Eric Nilsson, Current Northwestern Senior
"I'm really thankful for the opportunity to swim with Bob for four years, he was my personal coach the entire way. He knew everything about me in and out of the pool and gave me exactly what I needed to get better. He always had a plan the whole way for everyone. Bob had a phenomenal career; we heard stories about how tiny the team was when he got here. It is amazing to look back at everything Bob has accomplished to make this one of the best programs in the nation."
Steve Steketee, Assistant Coach, South Carolina
2001 Northwestern Graduate (1998 Big Ten Champion, 200 freestyle)
"My four years swimming for Bob were one of the best experiences of my life. I'm proud to have been part of the great program that he built at Northwestern. As a former NU swimmer I'm sad to see Bob retire, but as a current college swim coach I'm excited that he'll continue to be a leader in our profession and sport."
Brian Walters, 1999 Northwestern Graduate (1999 Big Ten Champion, 200 backstroke)
"This is a quick story that sums up what Bob means to me: At Big Tens, the coach of the winning swimmer gives out the medals to the top eight finishers. I had watched this for four years and I only saw Bob give out the awards once when Steve Steketee broke a 30 year NU drought by winning the 200 free the previous year. The last night of Big Tens my senior year, I had a chance to get him up there again. I wanted a Big Ten title more than anything but I wanted it more for Bob than anything else. After winning the 200 backstroke, I took more joy in watching Bob give the medals out to the top eight finishers than receiving that Big Ten title itself. Bob gave everything he had of himself to his NU swimmers, and for his inspiration and dedication, I will always be grateful."
Erica Rose, 2004 Northwestern Graduate
10-time Open Water National Champion
Six-time Open Water International Gold Medal Winner
"I started training with Bob midway through my career as a Northwestern Wildcat. I moved away after college but returned within a year specifically to resume training with Bob. I wanted to swim professionally and further my career as an open water swimmer, and I knew there was no better match for me anywhere than to have Bob Groseth as my coach.
"Bob pushed me in the water, finding new, different and fun ways to train me as an open water athlete. More importantly, he helped me develop as an athlete and as a person outside of the water. He taught me the value of cross training and maintaining fitness by getting involved in other activities. Bob laughed when I told him what a disaster I was in a step aerobics class and he insisted that the reason I hated the yoga classes was because I was terrible at it. I was so annoyed that he told me that I was bad at something that I have since become quite involved in yoga. I'm good, now, thanks to Bob! I take yoga classes 2-3 times per week and I make sure to stop by his office every so often just to make sure he knows that he was wrong.
"Bob believes in balance and clearly communicates that to all of his athletes. He always encouraged me to make sure to take time to spend with family and friends and he enjoyed hearing about any activities I was doing outside of my life as a swimmer. I wish Bob the very best with his plan to leave Northwestern in pursuit of a new and different challenge. I think it is an incredibly exciting opportunity for him and I know that the College Swimming Coaches Association of America could not possibly have found a better Executive Director. Bob has been an unbelievable asset to the Northwestern community and his presence on deck will truly be missed."
Eric Hansen, Head Coach, University of Wisconsin
Swam for Groseth at Iowa State
"Coach Groseth is the man and always will be. He has made everything I ever accomplished possible and inspired me to see what could happen. I don't attend many clinics because he presented me with so many ideas and variables that I have enough material to be my own artist for years to come. I wish him well and will support him in any and every way possible."
Head Coach, Glenbrook North HS (2008 Illinois High School Coach of the Year)
Former Groseth Assistant Coach
"Many times I would sit in the pool office while Bob would counsel a young swimmer on how to realize their potential. It's great to see Bob continuing to stretch his boundaries and use his amazing wisdom to help all of collegiate swimming. Northwestern's loss is CSCAA's gain."
Sergio Lopez, National Prep School (Coach of the Year)
Former Groseth Assistant Coach
"I am very happy for Bob and I have no doubts that he is the best person for the job. He will make a difference with the CSCAA like he has always done. Bob did an amazing job with the Wildcats and now will be doing the same for the rest of the college coaches."
Dan Ross, Head Coach, Purdue University
"Bob was one of my mentors as far back as the 1980's when he coached at Iowa State! After he came to Evanston, we would bring swimmers together from Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern and train in Madison, Wis., in the summers. I had been coaching at Purdue for a few years before that, but learned more from Bob (And Jack Pettinger) in a week there than I had my entire coaching career up to that point."