Bob Gillett, Hall Of Fame Coach, Passes Away – Memorial Service Planned


Swimming World has learned from multiple sources that Coach Bob Gillette passed away Saturday, February 25th in Phoenix, Arizona after suffering a heart attack. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. His wife was at his side when he passed away. The family will have a Memorial Service on Saturday, March 11 from 2 to 4 pm The Marriott Desert Ridge

We will have a celebration of his life, March 11th at the Marriott at Desert Ridge. That is a Saturday from 2-4. There are lots of areas around the resort to continue visiting with one another after the program. Please try to come and bring your favorite stories of coach. He had been wanting to do a really big reunion and party with everyone so let’s make it happen for him! Desert Ridge Marriott.” – Kathy Gillett

Gillett was a pioneer and leader in the application of underwater butterfly kicking in swim racing.  He was instrumental in the development of the monofin and making extended underwater breakouts a cornerstone of competitive racing. Gillett is probably most famous for leading Misty Hyman to her Gold medal-winning upset of “Madame Butterfly II” Susie O’Neill at the 2000 Olympics on O’Neill’s home turf in Sydney, Australia.  Hyman introduced Gillett in the ASCA Hall of Fame with an impassioned and touching tribute as a coach and mentor. Under Gillett’s guidance, Hyman was also a Jr National and National butterfly champion as well as the National High School record holder in the 100 yard butterfly.

Reflecting on the loss of Gillett, Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming’s Executive Director, explained,

I still call Misty Hyman’s incredible gold medal in Sydney one of the Olympics’ most memorable moments. How Bob and Misty worked together to accomplish what most people thought couldn’t happen was simply amazing.

Gillett’s swimmers have won 20 national championships and 50 junior national championships – mostly at Arizona Desert Fox.  Featuring world-class underwater kicking, Gillett swimmer Cindy Tran was a national high school record holder in the 100 yard backstroke, becoming the first high school female to break 52.

Wielgus added,

When you think of the true innovators in the sport of swimming, Bob Gillett immediately comes to mind. He was constantly looking forward and creating new ways to help his swimmers improve. He was also always willing to share his knowledge with other coaches to help them work with their swimmers better. Bob will be missed by all of us in the swimming community. 

Always known as an innovator, Gillett was ahead of the game in bringing swimming into the computer age.  In 1965 he developed the wheel calculator; in the early 70’s he developed a computer program to show simulated race analysis; in 1978 he was the first to bring a micro-computer to the pool deck with his database system known as CAREPAK (Computer-Assisted Race Evaluation Package).  In 2010 the first prototypes of his Sprint Trainer were developed.

Gillett is the founder of NCSA (National Club Swimming Association), whose Spring Junior National Championship meets have grown to over 1600 athletes.  Through NCSA, Gillett has implemented all-expense-paid trips for a NCSA team to international competition – the first team competing in Ireland in 2010.

Gillett is a mentor coach in USA Swimming’s Master Coach program – visiting clubs and sharing his expertise with clubs and college teams across the country.



  1. avatar

    Great, intelligent, creative, and inspiring man. We are blessed that he chose to dedicate his life to coaching. I pray for his family and other friends. He will be dearly missed and his legacy will live long. Thank you Bob. God bless. Steve

  2. Kathy Wing Milak

    I did not personally know Bob very well but he was the Best Role Model my son Kevin Milak could have ever had. He took Kevin under his wing and I know he is where he is today because of Bob’s guidance and leadership over the years. Thank You Bob for giving so much to so many.

    • avatar
      Misty Capriotti-Muhlenberg

      Greatest swim coach ever.

  3. avatar

    My heart is broken. Bob moved to Huntington Beach and saved Golden West Swim Club.
    He provided our community with a championship program from top to bottom. He had a dramatic impact on my life and the lives of my children. I will carry Bob in my heart until the day I join back up with him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  4. avatar

    Bob was a great coach, innovator, and super guy. He will be missed by many

  5. Mark Fraley

    I so loved “coach” we had such fun playing golf at Sea Cliff……he called me “Top Gun” because I was a “Combat Pilot” in the U.S. Army …. i love you “Coach” RIP

  6. Russell Denny

    I worked for Bob in 1993-94. A true genius in our sport, and a tremendous innovator. Deepest sympathies to his family.

  7. Ed Fraser

    Good friend & my “Roomy” at Pan Pacs in Japan. Rest In Peace my friend

  8. avatar
    Thatcher Woodley

    I worked for 2 years with Bob and learned so much. Thank you so much Bob for all you have given swimming and our world. Kathy Gillett please know you are in our prayers.

  9. avatar
    Gerry Seaquist

    Truly a coach devoted to swimming, you did a great job, Sir.

  10. avatar

    Thinking outside the lines – always thinking how can we do it better – His insights will last forever – a great mentor to my passion.

  11. Mike Davidson

    A very sad loss. Prayers to his family.

  12. avatar

    Keep on Swimming Fast Coach! I keep wanting to call you and talk about the next clinic in the works!