Bud Farmer, Florida Coaching Legend Dies

DAYTONA BEACH, July 14. COACH Bud Farmer, a highly successful collegiate and high school swim coach in Florida for four decades, died Thursday at home of an apparent heart attack. He was 65.

A long-time Daytona Beach area resident, Farmer coached three national junior college championship teams at Daytona Beach Community College in the early 1980s.

He was the swim coach at Father Lopez High School at the time of his death. In nine seasons at Father Lopez, he won over 160 dual meets with only three losses, including an incredible stretch of 95 straight victories.

"He would figure out a swimmer's potential and not let you quit until you reached that potential," said Mark Christman, who swam for Farmer at Father Lopez between 1994 and 1997.

"It's tough. It's a loss not only for his family, the Father Lopez community, but the entire swimming community."

Farmer also coached basketball and baseball, and served as athletic director at DBCC, during a coaching career that started when he was a student at the University of Michigan.

He made his greatest impact on the pool deck, however, where he produced a multitude of championship swimmers
– coaching such greats as Tripp Schwenck and Mitzi Kremer – and was highly instrumental in building what's now a thriving Daytona Beach area YMCA youth swimming program.

As a collegiate coach in the 1970s and early '80s, Farmer led the DBCC women's team to three consecutive National Junior College Athletic Association titles and was NJCAA coach of the year three times.

He produced a string of junior college All-Americans, and in 1979, he was an assistant coach for the United States team in the World University Games in Mexico City.

"He always produced good swimmers," said long-time Orlando Bishop Moore High coach Dan Dittmer, who knew Farmer for 25 years. "When they swam for Bud, he knew how to bring the best out in them."

Dittmer said he plans to dedicate the 2001 Catholic State High School Championships to Farmer's memory. He said he'll miss matching wits with his long-time friend and colleague.

"It always looked like we were crabbing at each other during meets, but he had his own dry humor," Dittmer said. "We jibed each other for years. He'd say, Looks like you're cheatin' again.' I'd say, You know where I learned it.'"

Charles Schlegel (also a long-time coach in the Daytona Beach area) assisted Farmer at Father Lopez for the past several seasons, spent Thursday phoning current and former Father Lopez swimmers with the news.

Farmer appeared in immaculate condition for his age. "If he had any (health) problems, he never told anybody," Schlegel said. "Everyone's shocked."

"We called him Coach because he was always teaching, even beyond the pool deck," says Rob Butcher a former swimmer under Farmer. "He didn't know how to work a VCR or microwave but he knew how to encourage and inspire people."

Katy Christman, who will be a junior at Lopez next season, said Green Wave swimmers were stunned by the news. "Some are out of town," Christman said. "Coming home for them is not going to be too good."

The younger sister of Mark Christman remembered how Farmer called her every week before her freshman season, "harassing her" to come out for the swimming team. She eventually gave in.

"I'll never experience swimming for someone like him again," she said through tears. "I'm glad I got the chance."

Coach Farmer is survived by his wife Nancy (the couple had been married over 40 years), five children, and numerous grand kids.

In leui of flowers, the family has asked donations be made to:

Father Lopez Swim Team
Father Lopez High School
960 Madison Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Friends and former swimmers can send e-mail wishes to: experit@aol.com or cards by mail to:

Mrs. Bud Farmer

10 Riverdale Drive
Ormond Beach, FL 32174

–Randy Nutt