Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps Heading to Arizona State University

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Bob Bowman, the head coach and CEO of North Baltimore Aquatic Club and Michael Phelps’ mentor, has taken the vacant Arizona State University head coaching position. Additionally, Michael Phelps will be following Bowman to Tempe as part of the move.

Arizona State announced the decision at a press conference at Noon Pacific time. Swimming World will be posting video of the press conference.

With the men’s basketball position filled by former Duke great Bobby Hurley, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson swung for the fences to replace Dorsey Tierney-Walker, who was let go on March 31 from the head coaching position.

Bowman not only has been at the helm of Phelps’ tremendous career that includes 22 Olympic medals, Bowman’s swimmers have also set 43 world records under his tutelage.

Bowman also has coached in college when he followed Phelps to the University of Michigan for four years. He coached the Wolverines during that time period, and won Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008, before returning to NBAC with Phelps.

Bowman is in a unique position where he could bring his stable of pro athletes with him to Arizona, Phelps included, since these athletes do not have commitments to a university. Their presence would only enhance the college program. Bowman owns the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, so he could hire coaching replacements for that program and a Chief Operating Officer to oversee its operations. The hiring of Bowman would certainly jump start the Arizona State program immediately.

Bowman explained that the Arizona State men’s swimming program is fully funded and safe.  He said he would not have taken the job any other way.

Bowman and Arizona State will also be heavily involved in the Make a Splash learn-to-swim initiative first developed by the USA Swimming Foundation.  Anderson is fully invested in using Arizona State University to help create what he called the “most expansive learn-to-swim program in all of collegiate sports” in an article reported by Metcalfe.

Arizona has the second-highest child drowning rate in the United States. Also a national research study commissioned by the USA Swimming Foundation and conducted by the University of Memphis in 2010 found that 70 percent of Black children, 60 percent of Latino children and 42 percent of White children have low or no swimming ability.

“We want to serve our community,” Anderson told Metcalfe. “We have four campuses all equipped with really high-level swimming venues. We can really help serve a need by utilizing our venues for learn-to-swim programs.”

Learn-to-swim and water safety is definitely something near and dear to Bowman, as he has become a champion of education regarding Shallow Water Blackout after NBAC swimmer Louis Lowenthal died due to the SWB.

Arizona Republic’s Jeff Metcalfe recently made news by reporting that Bowman took a campus visit while out in Arizona for the Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Ariz.

Here is the full ASU press release posted following the press conference:

Arizona State University has hired Bob Bowman, mentor of the world’s most decorated Olympian and two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, as head men’s and women’s swimming coach, Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson announced Friday.

“Today marks a seminal moment in the Sun Devil Swimming program,” Anderson said. “Bob is an icon in this sport and one of the most respected coaches in the industry. Under Bob’s guidance we will compete for individual, conference and national titles, produce All-Americans and Olympians, and create the most expansive developmental swim program in all of collegiate sports. His experience at every level of competition will allow him to grow our swimming program into an elite team and an invaluable community asset.”

Bowman is the third head coach in ASU history to direct both the men and women’s swimming teams, and is the sixth head coach of the men’s program and the seventh of the women’s program.

Bowman is the longtime coach of 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and has served as assistant coach in three different Summer Olympics, including 2004 in Sydney, 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. He was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2007, 2009 and 2013 FINA World Championships and was an assistant at the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2011 World Championships. Bowman’s swimmers have set 43 world records and more than 50 American records under his guidance.

“I am very honored and excited to lead the Sun Devil Swimming program,” said Bowman. “The leadership and vision of excellence established under Ray Anderson is impressive, and is matched by the enthusiasm and support of the entire Athletic Department. I look forward to returning to coach at the collegiate level and be part of the great community that Arizona State University has to offer. I am motivated by the opportunity to help develop student-athletes as individuals and I am confident that we can build a swimming program that will be a source of pride for all ASU students, faculty and alumni.”

Bowman is heavily involved in a number of community-driven swim initiatives, including his work with the Michael Phelps Foundation and its signature program – im – that provides underserved children with water safety, recreational aquatic activities, and goal setting programming. The Michael Phelps Foundation, for which Bowman serves as a board member, currently implements the “im” program in 35 Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 29 states as well as 160 teams through the Special Olympics in 34 countries.

A 2010 inductee into the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame, Bowman is a five-time ASCA Coach of the Year and is the most-honored coach in the 40-plus years of the award. He has earned USA Swimming Coach of the Year honors six times, the USA Swimming Foundation’s Golden Goggle Award four times, and was the 2002 USA Swimming Developmental Coach of the Year.

Bowman most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer and Head Coach for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where he oversaw a number of high-performance swimmers and Olympic medalists. In addition to Phelps, Bowman guided Allison Schmitt to five medals, including three gold, at the 2012 Olympics, and coached 13-time international medalist Conor Dwyer.

The Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008, Bowman was the head coach for the men’s swimming and diving program at the University of Michigan from 2005-08. He led the Wolverines to a top-eight finish nationally in all four years at UM, including sixth in 2005 and 2008, and guided them to the 2008 Big Ten Conference title. He coached three swimmers to six NCAA individual titles and put together a 30-8-1 record in dual meets, including a 21-1-1 mark against conference opponents.

A native of Columbia, S.C., Bowman graduated from Florida State with a Bachelor of Science degree in developmental psychology and a minor in music composition in 1987. He swam for the Seminoles from 1983-85 and was a team captain in his final season.

17 Comments

17 comments

  1. PJ Martin

    Great news for ASU!

  2. avatar
    Caitlin Garrison

    Bowman didn’t follow Phelps to Michigan, Phelps followed Bowman

  3. avatar
    mary bravo

    YES!!!!!

  4. Kimmy Richter

    Haha i know, he’s at ASU though like two hours away Casey Webster

Author: Jason Marsteller

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Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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