Competitor Coach of the Month: Bob Bowman

Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

After leading the Arizona State men’s team to a breakthrough runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships in March, Bob Bowman has continued to guide his swimmers to success in the 2023 long course season.

Through the first three nights of competition at the U.S. National Championships, five ASU-trained athletes had put themselves in position to qualify for the World Championship team.

Regan Smith was a no-brainer—she cruised to victory in the women’s 200 fly (2:05.79), which came after her American Record performance earlier in the month (2:03.87), and then followed up with the fifth-fastest swim of all-time in the 200 back (2:03.80) one night later.

Smith’s form since heading to Tempe has been nothing short of exceptional, as not only did her 200 fly from the Sun Devil Open mark a lifetime best by nearly a second and a half, but her 200 back swim on Wednesday marked her first time under 2:04 since the 2019 World Championships.

Smith also put up the seventh-fastest swim in history in the 50 back, placing second in a time of 27.14, just two one-hundredths shy of the American Record and .16 off the world record.

Placing second to Smith in the women’s 200 fly was Lindsay Looney, who surprisingly snagged the second Worlds spot in the event in 2:07.35, one-tenth shy of her PB set last summer.

Olivia Smoliga made her way back onto a major U.S. team after she missed the 2022 World Championships, setting a new PB en route to placing fourth in the women’s 100 free (53.28), while Ryan Held blasted his fastest time in the men’s 100 free since 2019 (47.63) in the prelims before taking fifth in the final. That will put him on the Worlds team, pending roster numbers.

Chase Kalisz joined the World Championship qualifiers on Thursday, as the reigning Olympic champion placed second in the men’s 400 IM in a time of 4:08.22, the seventh-fastest swim of his career and his second-quickest since 2018, only trailing the 4:07.47 he produced in the 2022 World Championships final.

On top of those qualifiers, Jonny Kulow continued his rapid rise by setting a new National Age Group Record for 17-18 boys in the 100 freestyle, firing off a time of 48.47 to finish 10th overall in the event.

Kulow also established lifetime bests of 23.43 and 52.55 in the 50 and 100 fly in Indy, moving up to ninth all-time among 17-18 boys in the latter.

And although he didn’t punch a ticket to Fukuoka, Jay Litherland had his fastest 400 IM in two years to place fourth in the event, clocking 4:10.74.

Another swimmer who has had a few impressive swims through three nights of Nationals is Jack Dolan, who set a PB of 24.89 in the 50 back to make the ‘A’ final before finishing sixth overall in 24.95.

Sun Devil swimmers have been on fire all month under the guidance of Bowman, along with head sprint coach Herbie Behm, and that is expected to continue throughout the remainder of Nationals and into the World Championships in July.

About Competitor Swim

Since 1960, Competitor Swim® has been the leader in the production of racing lanes and other swim products for competitions around the world. Competitor lane lines have been used in countless NCAA Championships, as well as 10 of the past 13 Olympic Games. Molded and assembled using U.S. – made components, Competitor lane lines are durable, easy to set up and are sold through distributors and dealers worldwide.

Competitor Swim is a SwimSwam partner. 

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Alex Wilson
4 months ago

Bob Bowman has developed coaching a system where both college team swimmers, world champions and Olympic medalists can work together in the same pool where all improve and reach times they never believed possible!

5 months ago

All Hail!

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Marcy Spann
5 months ago

literally anybody he coaches turns up big my god what a 🐐🏅

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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