Bob Bowman Takes Tempe: What led to taking the ASU Head Coach position

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.

College swimming is an environment where the NCAA reigns supreme, paperwork takes up just as much of your time as on-deck work, and swimming is a secondary focus to academics. So why would Bob Bowman, who’s had so much success at the club level through coaching numerous national, international, and professional level swimmers at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, want to give that all up and go coach at a program that was almost cut less then 2 years ago?

“When this Opportunity came up, it started checking all the boxes for what I wanted (in a program).”

In today’s episode, Bowman admits that had he not decided to move to Tempe in August, he would have left NBAC after the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in 2016. Since leaving Michigan in 2008, Bowman has looked at getting back into college coaching, and ASU had everything he has been looking for, including Men’s and Women’s programs, ample facilities, financial backing, perhaps most intriguing, a program that isn’t at the top.

Bowman wants to build a program from the ground up. He want’s his own legacy.

Will ASU be that legacy? Can Bob Bowman write himself in the books as one of the great college coaches? 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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Years of Plain Suck

I wish Bowman success at ASU, but to call him “one of the greatest coaches in swimming history” is premature.

I can think of many others who have eclipsed his accomplishments: George Haines, Doc Councilman, Mike Peppe, Gus Stager, Bob Kiputh, Forbe Carlisle, Don Gambril, Peter Daland, Skip Kenney, Richard Quick, and Eddie Reese.

If you are not familiar with some of these names, look them up and you’ll discover men who have produced countless Olympians and team championships.

(G)olden Bear

Nort Thornton
Ron Ballatore

Years of Plain Suck

I believe that former Cal assistant and current Michigan Head coach Mike Bottom has worked with as many (if not more) Olympians and has also won more NCAA titles (1) than Bowman has.

Years of Plain Suck

We shouldn’t overlook former Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek (Tom Dolan, Eric Namesnik, Mike Barrowman, Chris Thompson).


How many of those guys achieved their greatness as a club coach? Haines in a completely different era and Carlisle in a completely different system. So yes, eclipsed Bob as a collegiate coach which he really has not put a ton of time in as yet. But as a club coach you have to include him amongst the greats although the definition of a club is drastically changing with the advent of post grad pro swimmers.


Besides Phelps, who else has Bowman developed?


Besides the Sistine Chapel, how many other ceilings did Michaelangelo paint?

Years of Plain Suck

Actually, Michelangelo was no one-trick pony: he was also an accomplished sculptor (he was the Lebron James of Renaissance sculptors) and architect (he was the Seinfeld of Renaissance architects).

Joel Lin

Please ask Bob how much he will miss winters in Baltimore.

Joel Lin

Bowman’s greatest runs have been periods working together with Urbs. Wonder if AZ is close enough to Urbs for that partnership to happen again.

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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