Swimming World Presents: A Look at the Bolles School’s Historic Program

SW September 2020 - Prep Power - The Bolles School - 2009 FL State Champs by Steve Peacock
The Bolles School Sharks at the 2009 Florida State Championships

The latest issue of Swimming World Magazine
is now available for download in the Swimming World Vault!

Non-Subscribers Can Download This Issue Here

Jacksonville’s Bolles School Sharks Consistently Ranks Among Top High School Teams In The Nation

By Andy Ross

Since Swimming World first began recognizing the top high school teams in the country in 1971,
The Bolles School of Jacksonville, Fla., has won 18 national prep school titles—10 boys’, eight girls’.

When Gregg Troy arrived on deck at the Bolles School in the fall of 1977, he had five swimmers at his first team meeting. The girls’ team was coming off a state title the season before, and the boys were national prep school runners-up.

But the team was heavily hit by graduation, and Troy had little to work with in his first season.

“The headmaster when he hired me said, ‘Before you take this job, I want you to understand you’re not getting into what you think you’re getting into,’” Troy said.

Bolles had a history of being really good, but the team was at a bit of a standstill. The boys had won four straight state titles in the 1950s, but didn’t win again until 1972.

“I had a unique dynamic where the headmaster hired me directly, and he understood what we were trying to do. He gave me pretty much a free hand to do it, and that might be the most important thing. If your administration doesn’t have the same vision you have, you’re in trouble. His vision was they had been good, and he wanted them to continue to be good, but they weren’t.”

In order to build the high school team into a power again, Troy focused on building the club team.

“We started the club from scratch, but there was a little age group program that swam at that school called the Southside Sharks that was run by Tom O’Hara, a real fantastic age group coach. So what we did was put the two together—I took the high school kids and changed the name from Southside Sharks to the Bolles Sharks.”

Troy had developed a reputation in the state of Florida for really working his athletes, and a number of his swimmers from Fort Myers relocated to Bolles. In 1979, the girls won their second state title—the first under Coach Troy—and two years later, the boys achieved their first state title for Troy (and sixth since 1951).

Bolles was again becoming a powerhouse in Florida…and the success became contagious.

“Once we started to have success, and the school had a tradition for it, then we started to attract some people to the dorms. The first year, I got lucky and had some really good high school guys join the club team.”

In 1983, Bolles swept the state titles, with the girls claiming their first Swimming World national prep school title the next year.

“The people who got better were the ones that worked the hardest,” Troy said. “The swimmers started believing, ‘If I want to be good, I better work hard.’

“We had a situation where people came to Jacksonville to swim because they were looking for the challenge. They weren’t looking for an easy way, and we had established the program in town off challenge. The challenges and aspirations were to be the very best we could be, and the school had that academic reputation, so it permeated from the people you were working with: there was a real goal to be good.”

The Bolles girls repeated as national champions in 1985, while the boys had won six state titles in 10 years in the 1980s.

Bolles had been attracting swimmers from around the world, as international students could move to Jacksonville and stay in the dorms while attending Bolles, a precursor to what they would experience in college. By 1988, Bolles had started a state championship streak that has yet to be broken, while the girls have not lost since 1991.

“When (the state meet) was moved to the fall, that created the dynamic where the state meet became a stepping stone,” Troy said. “The whole thing wasn’t based around winning championships—it was based around personal improvement. How good could you be?

“We get that all wrong sometimes. The personal improvement is where the championships come from.

To read the full story of The Bolles School Sharks’ long-lived success,
Check out the full article in September’s issue, available now!

SW September 2020 Cover - Matt Grevers - Age is Just a Number[PHOTO CREDIT: TAYLOR NATIONS]

 

Get Swimming World Magazine and Swimming World Biweekly FREE When You
Become A Member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame

New! 30 Day Membership to ISHOF AND Digital Swimming World Subscription for just $10 a month!

Want more? Get a 1 Year ISHOF Family Membership With Swimming World Print AND Digital Subscription Order Now!

Non-Subscribers can click here to download this issue for only $5.94

 

Swimming World Magazine September 2020 Issue

FEATURES

010 IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN
by Dan D’Addona
Indiana’s Carmel High School has won the girls’ state swimming and diving championships for 34 straight years, a feat unequaled by any other high school—not only in swimming, but in any other sport.

012 BEST OF THE DECADE (2010-19)
In Swimming World’s first mythical national high school championships to determine the best teams of the last decade, Carmel High School of Indiana won both the girls’ and boys’ competitions.

013 GIRLS’ NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS MOCK HEAT SHEET: BEST OF THE DECADE (2010-19)
Times compiled by Bob Klapthor

015 BOYS’ NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS MOCK HEAT SHEET: BEST OF THE DECADE (2010-19)
Times compiled by Bob Klapthor

017 PREP POWER
by Andy Ross
Since Swimming World first began recognizing the top high school teams in the country in 1971, The Bolles School of Jacksonville, Fla., has won 18 national prep school titles—10 boys’, eight girls’. The Bulldogs have also captured 12 combined championships (public and independent schools), with both teams finishing No. 1 six times.

020 THE GOLDEN YEARS OF HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING
by David Rieder
Public schools Santa Clara and Mission Viejo built high school swimming dynasties from the 1960s through the early 1980s. Not only did they dominate high school swimming, but unlike today, they also produced many of the swimmers from that era who competed in the Olympics.

026 STILL CHASING EXCELLENCE
by John Lohn
Matt Grevers does not need to achieve anything more to stamp himself as an all-time great. But even at 35, there is a desire to accomplish more, and there is no reason to doubt Grevers can come through.

029 SUMMER OF SPEED
by John Lohn
Politics interfered at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, preventing South Africa’s Jonty Skinner from competing head-to-head against the USA’s Jim Montgomery in the men’s 100 freestyle. But that summer, they became the first two swimmers to break the 50-second barrier in the event, with Montgomery clocking 49.99 at Montreal, followed by Skinner with a 49.44 at the AAU National Championships three weeks later.

032 THE TROUBLE WITH SPRINTERS (Part 3): GARY HALL JR.
by Bruce Wigo
The theme of this series of articles has been that sprinters are different from other swimmers—athletes who have historically been considered troublemakers by the establishment, but who have been great for the sport. This month’s featured sprinter is Gary Hall Jr.—one of the greatest in Olympic history…but, perhaps, one of the most maligned and misunderstood.

COACHING

038 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: TRUST IN SCIENCE
by Rod Havriluk
Based on the many counterproductive technique elements that are conventional wisdom, it seems logical to ask why there is not a greater acceptance of science in swimming. The purpose of this article is to give swimmers and coaches some very real reasons to trust in science and scientists.

040 SPECIAL SETS: BACK TO BASICS
by Michael J. Stott
While college swimming as we know it faces a roadmap unlike any in recent memory, Coach Eric Skelly of the University of the Cumberlands, Ky. is treating the return to campus and formal practice as business as usual.

043 Q&A WITH COACH SION BRINN
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN TAYLA LOVEMORE
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

036 DRYSIDE TRAINING: MORE CORE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

046 UP & COMERS: GABI BRITO
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

023 DID YOU KNOW? JIM CROW

037 THE OFFICIAL WORD

042 MOMS AT MEETS

047 GUTTERTALK

048 PARTING SHOT

Swimming World is now partnered with the International Swimming Hall of Fame. To find out more, visit us at ishof.org

1 comment

  1. Anthony Minickiello

    Would love to see an article about Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts. One of the best prep schools in the country with a wonderful history of swimming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.