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       Doc taking splits

      Doc writting notes

        Doc at practice

    Doc with Mark Spitz

Indiana Swimming Legend and Coach Dies.  (1920-2004)

ARTICLE #1:  James E. "Doc" Counsilman

January 5, 2004, Sunday an Indiana coaching legend passed away peacefully in his sleep. "Doc" was 83.  Doc's wife, Marge, told news reporters that he had had a battle with Parkinson's disease.  The former Indiana University coach was the greatest coach, scientist, and innovator in the sport of swimming to this day.

Throughout his career as coach and professor, Doc stressed the importance of studying the scientific basis of human movement. He taught his swimmers much of what he knew, and some of what he only guessed was true. The intellectual atmosphere he created in the pool was instrumental in attracting outstanding student-athletes to Indiana University, leading to unparalleled success in swimming.

James "Doc" Counsilman coached Indiana University to six NCAA swimming championships.  His most unique accomplishment was swimming the English Channel at age 58, making him the oldest man to do so at the time.

Doc was the greatest swim coach of all time.  If that doesn't move you, then consider him among history's greatest coaches in any sport.  From 1957 to 1990, as coach at Indiana University, his teams won 23 Big Ten titles, six consecutive NCAA titles, and seven AAU outdoor national championships.  (He lost a chance at more NCAA crowns because of Indiana's recruiting violations in other sports.) Doc coached the U.S. Olympic men's teams in 1964 (winning 9 of 11 gold medals) and 1976 (winning 12 of 13).  In his career at IU, he trained 48 Olympians from 10 nations who won 46 medals, 26 of them gold.  In the early 1960s, my Indiana teammates held anywhere between two-thirds to four-fifths of all men's world records.

The Indiana University Natatorium bears his name. And as a coach, Doc Counsilman forever changed the sport of swimming.  
He coached 48 Olympians in his career, giving credit to his athletes.

Still, some of the standards set by Counsilman's swimmers are not equaled. He was a man who made such a huge splash when he revolutionized swimming in the 20th century that every swimmer feels the ripples of his wake.  Counsilman also made many lasting contributions to his sport, including writing a book in 1968. "The Science of Swimming" was translated into 20 different languages and is considered an essential text for the sport.  

Doc pursued his coaching innovations by exploring the use of new video and electronic technology to assess the performance of competitive swimmers during training and competition. He also served as a resource for coaches, swimmers, and scholars seeking information on the history of swimming, training techniques, and competition.

Doc has donated his extensive personal archives to establish the cornerstone of the Counsilman Library, from which we will build a unique collection of swimming knowledge. Counsilman was 83 years old. He is survived by his wife Marge.


     Doc with wife Marge

  Doc with Grandson Dan

 Doc & swimmer Kinnsella

Photos provided courtesy
of Indiana University.

ARTICLE #2:  James E. "Doc" Counsilman

International swimming lost a towering figure when Dr. James E. "Doc" Counsilman passed away in Bloomington, Ind., on Jan. 5 at the age of 83. He had been in a nursing home for the past several years suffering from Parkinson's disease.

The most acclaimed American swimming coach of the 20th century, he was also the sport's leading scientific investigator, a pioneer in the use of underwater photography to study stroke technique and a prolific writer, authoring the most influential book ever published in the sport, "The Science of Swimming," which has been translated into 20 languages. In addition, Doc was also a champion swimmer as a young man, leading Ohio State to NCAA titles in 1946 and '47 and winning several national crowns in the 200 yard and meter breaststroke. In 1979, at the age of 58, he became the oldest person (to that time) to conquer the English Channel.

Doc served twice as the U.S. men's Olympic swimming coach, in 1964 and 1976. The 1976 team is considered to be the most dominant Olympic team of all time-in any sport-winning 12 of the 13 events contested. In addition, U.S. men took first and second place in five of the 11 individual events and all three medals in another four events. The 1964 team won nine of the 11 events contested, with Australians coached by Counsilman taking the other two.

From 1957 to 1990, he was the men's coach at Indiana. His teams there won six consecutive NCAA championships (1968 to 1973), 23 Big Ten titles (including 20 straight from 1961 through 1980) and 140 consecutive dual meets over 13 years.

Of his Indiana swimmers, 48 competed in the Olympics, representing 10 nations, and they won 46 medals (26 gold). Those swimmers included Mark Spitz and John Kinsella, each a Sullivan Award winner as America's outstanding amateur athlete, and Charlie Hickcox, Chet Jastremski, Gary Hall Sr., Mike Troy, Jim Montgomery and Frank McKinney. In all, his swimmers set 52 world and 154 American records.

Though reluctant to talk about it, Doc was also a war hero. During World War II, he flew 32 missions as a B-24 bomber pilot and was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. While making a bombing run over Austria, his plane's landing gear was shot out, and he flew the plane over the Alps to crash-land near Zagreb in Yugoslavia, saving the lives of his crew. For his courage, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

An innovator and motivator, Doc was a pioneer in applying scientific research to swimming, leading the way in using film for analyzing and improving stroke technique. He also introduced interval training, isotonic exercise, Bernoulli's Principle, the pace clock and hypoxic conditioning to the sport. He was a master at motivating his swimmers to work harder, admonishing them that "it only hurts once from beginning to end" and teaching them to take pride in their ability to train harder than others. His leadership, prestige and persuasion were critical factors in the emergence of both the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the American Swimming Coaches Association.

Doc was married for 60 years to the former Marjorie Scrafford, his collaborator in many of his writings and his life-long companion. In addition to his wife, Marge, he is survived by his son, Brian, daughter Cathy Bonner, daughter Jill Morriss and five grandchildren.


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