Ball State Men’s Swimming Head Coach Bob Thomas Announces Retirement After 39 Years

Photo Courtesy: Mid-American Conference

After 39 seasons serving as the Ball State men’s swimming and diving head coach, Bob Thomas has announced his retirement effective in July 2018.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with the hundreds of swimmers and divers over the last 39 years,” Thomas said. “Now that I’m retiring, I am looking forward to my next adventure.”

Thomas began coaching at Ball State in June of 1979 and also spent five seasons co-coaching the women’s swimming and diving team (2004-05 to 2008-09). Prior to Ball State, Thomas coached at Lincoln College (1976-79) and Evergreen Park High School in Illinois (1975-76).

“Coach Thomas has had a wonderful career and positively influenced the lives of many young men,” Director of Athletics Mark Sandy said. “His contributions to the Ball State Athletic Department and the University are many, and we wish him well as he moves to the next phase of his life.”

Thomas is the winningest coach in program history with 217 total wins, including an undefeated season in 1991-1992. A four-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year (1992-93, 1994-95, 1999-00, 2002-03), Thomas guided the Ball State men’s squad to a pair of runner-up finishes at the MAC Championships (1992-93, 2002-03) along with top three finishes eight times.

Over his career, Thomas coached his student-athletes to 45 MAC individual championships, while helping guide his relay teams to seven league titles. His student-athletes earned All-MAC First Team honors eight times, while collecting All-MAC Second Team accolades on 17 occasions. He also coached his athletes to four All-America honors, nine MAC Diver of the Year awards, four MAC Outstanding Senior awards and one MAC Swimmer of the Year title.

Outside of the pool, 65 athletes were named to the Academic All-MAC team while five swimmers have Distinguished Scholar Athletes awards under Thomas’ guidance. His squads have been chosen as a College Swimming Coaches of America Academic All-America Team in all but one semester he has coached. Two athletes during his time at Ball State were named to the CSCA Academic All-America First Team and one was named to the CoSIDA Academic At-Large All-District V Team.

Two of Thomas’ swimmers earned the Bob James Award. In 1989, Rick Winegardner earned the first ever Bob James Award. Last year, Tanner Barton was the second Ball State men’s swimmer to receive that honor. The Bob James Scholarship Award recognizes one female and one male student who have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.50 and have displayed good character, leadership and citizenship.

Thomas is a member of the Eastern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame where he won 14 national championships as a collegiate swimmer—seven NAIA national titles in 1971 and 1972 and seven NCAA Division II titles in 1973 and 1974.

The above press release courtesy of Ball State Swimming and Diving


  1. avatar
    Roger Karns

    Bob Thomas – Great man! A loss for the swimming community.

  2. Irene Theders

    ❤️❤️❤️enjoy your new adventure!

  3. avatar
    Frank R Comfort

    I remember Bob as a great, great swimmer at Eastern illinois in the NCAA College Division, which preceded the formation of the NCAA Division III in 1975. Congratulations on then moving to many great decades of coaching. Enjoy your well earned retirement coach.