Bob Bowman Takes Tempe: How will you deal with failure?

Swimming Video capture – Garrett McCaffrey / SwimSwam co-founder.

Video edit – Coleman Hodges / SwimSwam Production Manager.


ASU Swimming and Diving Coach Bob Bowman recently sat down with Swimswam’s Garrett McCaffrey for an exclusive interview. We have turned that interview into a 6-part mini series, Bowman Takes Tempe, running 1 episode each day of the week from May 31-June 5.


So far, Coach Bowman’s plan of attack for rebuilding this ASU program sounds stellar. He’s got a great background for it, he’s got backing from all parties involved, and his motives are certainly in the right place. However, no matter how good it may seem to be, it is inevitable that things go wrong.

It’s a really important part of the process. It’s where you learn the most.

Bowman has a healthy approach to failure, and has realistic expectations that it will indeed occur. He says himself that if things go wrong, he will look to make personal changes within his own actions, which will in turn facilitate change in others surrounding the program, activating a chain reaction that would ideally produce more favorable results. Bowman recognizes that failure is where an athlete learns how they can better themselves, and drives them to succeed that much more.


Will this approach be able to push the ASU program to new heights, as Bowman hopes? What does this mean for Bowman’s post-grad group, including the greatest of all time, Michael Phelps? Stay tuned for answers.


Coach Bowman is one of the greatest coaches in swimming history. Developing Michael Phelps, who delivered the greatest Olympic-run in history, often overshadows his long, storied career, but Bowman has had enormous success in all areas of his coaching life. Coach Bowman’s NBAC has developed countless elite athletes and swimmers competing at the college level. Bowman takes the reins at ASU Swimming and Diving as college swimming programs continue to get cut across the country. ASU’s choice to invest in Bowman and in swimming is beacon of light at this time in college swimming history.

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7 years ago

Phelps’s goals for 2008, from No Limits…
100 free – 47.5
200 free – 1:43.5
100 fly – 49.5
200 fly – 1:51.1
200 IM – 1:53.5
400 IM – 4:05.0

bobo gigi
Reply to  TheTroubleWithX
7 years ago

I prefer the gold medals rather than the times.
We will remember the races and the medals in 50 years but the times, I’m not sure.

7 years ago

Why is everyone falling over themselves over this move? Bob Bowman left Michigan after only 3 years. I am not convinced that he is “all in” on this one. Coaching college athletes is very different from coaching Pros or high school kids. We’ll see….

Reply to  nealnan
7 years ago

Everyone? It’s 50/50 at best. Go look at the first thread that announced this, it was a fairly polarizing post.

7 years ago

I’ve always wondered what Phelps goals were since he never said them publicly. I think he reached his goal in the 200 free and 400 IM. I don’t think he ever went as fast as he wanted to the in the 200 fly. I think his goal was 1:49.99. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done in 08 if the 200 fly was in the beginning of his schedule and his goggles didn’t fill up with water.

Reply to  Dolphin22
7 years ago

Actually, I think he mentioned in them in one of his books. I definitely remember a 1:53.5 200 IM being one of his goals. Let me see if I can find it.

Years of Plain Suck
7 years ago

Good luck to Bob and the ASU swimming programs!

That said, I can’t see ASU getting higher than 4th (and that’s with a lot of breaks) in either M/W Pac12 conference meet anytime soon. Anyone disagree? The only wild cards are his recruiting international swimmers and JUCO transfers (are the latter still a thing?).

Reply to  Years of Plain Suck
7 years ago

Years of Plain Suck – the latter are still a thing, though maybe the ranks aren’t as deep as they once were. Out of the NJCAA there’s pretty much one program producing high Division I-level swimmers consistently, Indian River. The California JuCo system is a little more balanced.

Most recent example is Brad Tandy at Arizona, who tied for the NCAA title in 2014 in the 50 free.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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